The main reason the Legislature has spent more than a year not fixing the election system that brought us Lillian McBride and Howard Jackson and now Sam Selph — and eight-hour waits to vote and uncounted ballots — is that legislators in the rest of the state don’t understand that Richland County is the canary in the coal mine. They insist that those endless lines and ballots that turn up a year after the fact, uncounted, are unique to Richland County. They’re not, but let’s pretend for argument’s sake that the problem is unique to Richland County. It still isn’t a Richland County problem.
Not when you count the ballots for all those legislative districts that cross county lines from Richland into Lexington and Kershaw and Sumter and Newberry and Lee counties. Not when you count the ballots in the 2nd Congressional District. Or the 6th. Not when you count the ballots for attorney general or U.S. Senate. Or governor.
We know votes cast in Richland County aren’t always counted. Who’s to say they won’t get miscounted, or overcounted, in the next election? In such a Republican state, having votes miscounted or voters going home without voting in a county with one of the highest populations of Democrats won’t turn a lot of elections. But it could make a difference in a close race.