Richland County’s election meltdown was a system failure by top election officials, including director Lillian McBride and the board that oversees the office, according to a preliminary report released Thursday. “A series of unfortunate assumptions … led us astray on Nov. 6,” is how attorney Steve Hamm summed up his assessment 30 days after the electoral fiasco widely considered among the state’s worst. Members of the Richland County Board of Elections and Voter Registration received an interim report on the Election Day debacle from attorney Steve Hamm. Hamm presents evidence he believes caused part of the problem on Election Day. A list, drawn up by a part-time staffer, that mistakenly reduced the number of machines to be delivered to the polls and then was not double checked for accuracy. Who, if anyone, will be disciplined and how?
What is the identity of the part-time staffer in elections director Lillian McBride’s office who changed the number of machines that were to be distributed?
Why where important actions, such as determining the number of machines, left to a part-time employee of McBride’s office?
Why did machines at precincts not work? How many didn’t work and where were they?
How many emergency machines were deployed and where? Which precincts received emergency technicians’ help?
How did two styles of paper absentee ballots get printed, causing major problems in counting those ballots?
What exactly has McBride’s Elections & Voter Registration office done to be sure her now-acknowledged mistakes don’t happen again?
“The election hit an iceberg, and nobody noticed up to and including the election,” Hamm said as part of a 29-page, hour-long report that still leaves key questions unanswered.
“Nobody was asking the fundamental questions,” he told the public and the Board of Elections & Voter Registration in the widely anticipated initial report delivered during a specially called board meeting at the county administration building.
Hamm assigned most of the blame for the drastic shortage of voting machines to McBride, saying that “ultimately, the issue of delivering the correct number of voting machines to each precinct was the responsibility of the director …”
“There were signs (of trouble) out there” as early as the summer, he said.
Hamm repeatedly said that McBride, her staff and the board failed to catch obvious problems.
Neither Hamm nor the board, which hired him, called for disciplinary action against anyone.