Starting this fall, state elections officials will check vote totals in all 46 counties as part of the biggest election reform measure passed in a decade. Disagreements are brewing, meanwhile, among Richland County legislators about whether to retain two long-time election board members when the offices join once again as a result of the new measure. The bill – awaiting the governor’s signature after unanimous approval this week by the House and Senate – requires counties to merge election and voter registration functions. The measure averted possible chaos during upcoming elections in June and November: A lawsuit in Richland County foreshadowed problems with the patchwork of local laws that set up election boards statewide. The General Assembly had to agree on a uniform method to run county election offices.
… Marci Andino, director of the State Election Commission, said Wednesday she’s still analyzing what her office will be able to accomplish this year. But starting with the November election, her office will require local offices to provide electronic vote totals for verification before final numbers are certified, she said. The office initiated a voluntary program in 2012, though she did not immediately know how many counties participated.
“We are now serving in a supervisory role over the conduct of elections, and the state oversight – in particular, the audit authority – will bring about increased accountability in elections,” Andino said. Post-election results will be made public, so interested citizens will know how their county offices are doing, she said.
Andino, director for 11 years, said the bill represents the most significant reform in the administration of elections since state-purchased voting machines in 2004-05.