A state lawmaker from Richland County has issued a public apology for the bungled Richland County elections Nov. 6, calling them a “colossal failure” that caused hundreds if not thousands of people “to drop out of long voting lines.” The statement by Rep. Mia Butler Garrick, D-Richland, made last week in a blast email to friends and supporters, was the first apology by an elected state official to date about the election missteps marked by severe shortages and multiple breakdowns of voting machines. Never in memory have Richland County elections been so trouble-plagued, local politicians have said.
“My heart broke as elderly grandmothers and grandfathers senselessly tried to brave the cold so that they too, could exercise the right that so many of them fought for us to have,” Garrick wrote, speaking of the civil rights movement. Garrick is African-American, as are many of her constituents in northeast Columbia.
Because two different type sizes were used in the printing of absentee ballots, the lines of one of the forms did not match up last week when read by the ballot counting machine. The two styles of paper ballots were separated.
“Never before have I been so dismayed and disgusted, as I watched hundreds of moms and dads stand outside for hours in the freezing cold, trying to warm their babies and toddlers in their arms,” Garrick wrote. Her email included both a statement to friends, as well as a memo she had sent her 14 state lawmaker colleagues on the Richland County Legislative Delegation.
The delegation as a group should also apologize to voters and accept responsibility for putting county elections director Lillian McBride in office and “hold her accountable for the procedural, logistical and preparatory failures that caused Tuesday’s (Nov. 6) debacle,” Garrick wrote.