A state election audit revealed Thursday that Richland County officials failed to count 1,114 absentee ballots when finalizing results of the Nov. 5 city and county elections. Howard Jackson, county election director, said the electronic ballots came from a single voting machine used by absentee voters at the election office. This was the first countywide election since Richland County’s botched 2012 general election, considered one of the worst in state history. At that time, precincts across the county did not have enough voting machines, leaving some voters in line for up to seven hours, and hundreds of ballots turned up uncounted days later.
Jackson disclosed the findings in a letter to county administrator Tony McDonald and later in the day discussed it behind closed doors with members of the county Elections & Voter Registration Board.
Jackson declined Thursday to say who was responsible for the error or what actions he might take.
He did acknowledge, however, that absentee balloting is the responsibility of his predecessor, Lillian McBride, who was demoted in the wake of last year’s county election debacle but given another position in the office. Still, he would not pin blame on anyone, characterizing the mistake as a “system” problem.