Voters across South Carolina turned out in droves in Tuesday’s presidential election, but many waited hours to cast ballots, and in some places, they said the wait resulted from a lack of voting machines or malfunctioning machines.
The S.C. Election Commission reported heavy turnout, with sporadic problems across the state. But the most complaints about the time it took to vote came from Richland County, said Chris Whitmire, a spokesman for the election commission. Many Richland County voters spent up to seven hours in line at precincts that they said didn’t have enough working voting machines to handle the crush of people. Voters at some Richland County precincts were still in line after polls closed at 7 p.m., some reportedly as late as 9 or 10 p.m.
“I feel disenfranchised by this mess,’’ said David Eddy, a Northeast Richland County voter. “Heads should roll for preventing working people from voting.”
Fewer problems were reported in Lexington County. But of the 15 precincts visited by Richland County Treasurer David Adams, all had fewer voting machines this year than during the last election, he said. County officials said they had the same number of machines this year as during the last election – about 950 – although some individual precincts had less.
Lillian McBride, voter registration and election commission director in Richland County, blamed the county’s previous director for failing to leave adequate records for her staff to determine how many machines were needed in some precincts. McBride replaced Mike Cinnamon as election commission director after Richland merged the commission with the voter registration office in 2011.
“We didn’t have any records from the previous administrator who was here,’’ McBride said. She said the election commission provided the required number of machines, but in some precincts did not provide extra machines that could have helped move voters faster.