Howard Jackson has been fired after eight months as director of the Richland County Elections & Voter Registration Office. Jackson, 43, was dismissed Monday on a 4-1 vote by the election board, with member Adell Adams the only “no” vote. His last day in the office will be Feb. 28. “Things were not going right,” board member Samuel Selph said in confirming the board’s decision. Jackson, who was hired at an annual salary of $78,000, said he would be holding a news conference Tuesday to discuss the turn of events as well as recent elections. He was brought in by the board after the election disaster of November 2012, when too few machines were deployed and voters waited in long lines, some for as long as seven hours, to cast ballots. Then-director Lillian McBride, who oversaw that election, was demoted to another position.
But the office was embarrassed again in November, when it was revealed that 1,114 votes went uncounted after a personal electronic ballot, or PEB, containing absentee ballots was overlooked. That election included a race for mayor and the Richland County Library tax increase. Efforts to reach other board members, including the chairman, Allen Dowdy, were unsuccessful Monday.
The board hired Jackson, former director of Orangeburg County’s elections office, after two other finalists for the job dropped out.
The board went ahead and offered him the job, though some members of the Richland County legislative delegation suggested it should scrap the process and start over.