South Carolina: Election director’s ties to voting company creates ‘conflict’ concerns | Post and Courier

The relationship between South Carolina’s director of elections and the country’s largest voting equipment company has caught the attention of lawmakers as the state prepares to spend a proposed $60 million to replace  13,000 voting machines. For more than a decade, Marci Andino, executive director of the S.C. Election Commission, served on an advisory board formed by Elections Systems and Software, known commonly as ES&S. Andino received more than $19,000 worth of flights, hotels and meals from ES&S since 2009 to attend regular conferences at the company’s headquarters in Nebraska and other cities across the country, according to records with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. Andino was offered a spot on that private panel in 2005, according to other documents provided to The Post and Courier. It was a year after ES&S won a contract to supply new voting equipment to the Palmetto State and two years after Andino became executive director of the election commission.

South Carolina: New Voting Machines in Possibly by 2017 | WSPA

South Carolina voters could be using new voting machines by 2017. The Voting System Research Committee met at the state house today to talk about the issue. The Director of the South Carolina State Elections Commission, Marci Andino, says it could cost around $40 million to replace all the machines in the state. That’s about $3,000.00 per machine.

South Carolina: Elections oversight begins in fall, as reform passes | The State

Starting this fall, state elections officials will check vote totals in all 46 counties as part of the biggest election reform measure passed in a decade. Disagreements are brewing, meanwhile, among Richland County legislators about whether to retain two long-time election board members when the offices join once again as a result of the new measure. The bill – awaiting the governor’s signature after unanimous approval this week by the House and Senate – requires counties to merge election and voter registration functions. The measure averted possible chaos during upcoming elections in June and November: A lawsuit in Richland County foreshadowed problems with the patchwork of local laws that set up election boards statewide. The General Assembly had to agree on a uniform method to run county election offices.

South Carolina: No widespread voter fraud found in South Carolina elections | The Augusta Chronicle

No one intentionally cast a ballot in South Carolina using the names of dead people in recent elections, despite allegations to the contrary, according to a State Law Enforce­ment Division report. Attorney General Alan Wil­son asked the agency to investigate last year after the Department of Motor Vehi­cles determined in early 2012 that more than 900 people listed as deceased had voted in recent years. Wilson called the number “alarming” and said it “clearly necessitates an investigation into criminal activity.” State Election Commis­sion Director Marci Andino had her staff look at questionable votes from the Novem­ber 2010 general election, or about 200 of the more than 900 votes total – information that was also ultimately analyzed by SLED. Nearly half of the issues could be attributed to clerical errors, while several dozen resulted from DMV officials running Social Secur­ity numbers of voters against dead people but not seeing whether the names matched.

South Carolina: Election laws anemic, lacking in accountability |

South Carolina’s election laws are almost completely toothless and enforcement is a matter of foxes and henhouses, concerned state officials are saying in the wake of Richland County’s bungled election. “I know that this agency does not have enforcement authority,” Marci Andino, director of the State Election Commission said. “That is the structure the General Assembly wanted.” Local elections and voter registration boards are created by state law through county legislative delegations, with each running its elections independently of state government control – and accountability, state election officials say. “People can tell her to just go jump in the lake,” state Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, said of Andino. Smith last week filed a bill that would weaken local boards, which he called “fiefdoms.” He wants to shift local control to Andino’s agency.

South Carolina: Election workers: Missteps on past turnout spurred errors |

Richland County’s elections office used turnout from previous elections to help decide the number of voting machines distributed last month, two poll managers and a machine technician said. That might have been one of many miscalculations by the Elections & Voter Registration office – but so far not publicly acknowledged – that prompted machine shortages that created hours-long lines and disenfranchised uncounted others. State law requires one machine for each 250 registered voters. The law has no specific provision for using turnout as a gauge.

South Carolina: Richland County ballots to get unprecedented recount |

In an unprecedented twist to an already knotted election, state elections officials today will conduct a court-ordered recount of all Richland County ballots cast Tuesday after a lawsuit in a House race prompted state investigators to seize voting records. Amid a swirl of legal action Thursday, the chairwoman of the Richland County Election Commission said she is sorry for the mess that created long waits at polling places, some stretching to seven hours and causing some voters to leave without casting a ballot. Read the restraining order petition and the order

South Carolina: Judges tough on both sides in South Carolina voter-ID case |

Federal judges grilled attorneys Monday over South Carolina’s controversial voter-ID law, which opponents said would disenfranchise thousands of minorities but supporters said would have ample protection against discrimination at the polls. During closing arguments in a six-day federal trial over the law, the three-judge panel challenged attorneys for the state over election officials’ shifting stances on how they’d implement it, and the judges asked opposing attorneys why they’re rejecting clear efforts by those officials to soften possible harmful impact on African-American voters. The South Carolina law, which Attorney General Eric Holder blocked after its May 2011 enactment, has national implications that pit a state’s legal right to prevent electoral fraud against the federal government’s mandate under the 1965 Voting Rights Act to ensure equal access to the polls for minority Americans.

South Carolina: Voter ID case could close with legal fireworks |

Closing arguments Monday about South Carolina’s voter ID law will cap an extraordinary case that already has seen charges of racism directed at the law’s author as well as federal judges’ open frustration over state officials’ changing stances on how they would enact the law. Opponents of the embattled law, which U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder blocked last year under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, will challenge the credibility of its chief author, state Rep. Allan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach. Lawyers for groups opposed to the voter ID law, including civil rights groups, will say Clemmons took false credit for its “reasonable impediment” clause, which allows voters to cast ballots if they have “reasonable” reasons for not having photo identification.

South Carolina: GOP runoff in state Senate race headed for recount | The Republic

The Republican primary runoff election in a Greenville County state Senate race will go to a recount, as unofficial results Tuesday show that only 36 votes separate candidates Ross Turner and Joe Swann. The voting was not as close in Tuesday night’s two other legislative runoff elections, however. Tony Barwick won the Republican nomination in State Senate District 35 and MaryGail Douglas captured the Democratic nod in State House of Representatives District 41. Under South Carolina law, a recount in an election is mandatory if the difference between the winner and second-place finisher is less than one percent. With all of the votes counted, Turner had 2,784 votes, or 50.33 percent, and Swann had 2,748 votes, or 49.67 percent.

South Carolina: Runoff set in 7th District Democratic primary |

Judge Larry Hyman ordered the South Carolina Election Commission to count all ballots cast for withdrawn Democratic candidate Ted Vick in the 7th Congressional District primary, thereby leading to a runoff election Tuesday between top vote-getters Gloria Tinubu and Preston Brittain. Election Commission Executive Director Marci Andino said the commission would abide by the court’s ruling and not appeal. The commission’s long-standing policy – in place since 2006 – stating votes for withdrawn candidates are not counted when it comes to determining majority vote in a primary was the focus of Hyman’s ruling. The policy stemmed from state law that said the majority is determined “by dividing the total votes cast for all candidates by two,” and that anything in excess of that sum is a majority. Without Vick’s 2,341 votes, Tinubu had 52 percent of all votes counted and was declared the winner of the June 12 primary.

South Carolina: Election Commission asks State Supreme Court to intercede in 7th District primary |

The State Election Commission filed an emergency petition with the S.C. Supreme Court Monday asking for relief from a lawsuit over the 7th District Democratic primary and a restraining order that prohibits the Commission from preparing or distributing election materials for the Republican runoff as well. “The real concern is that voters are going in to participate in the Republican (runoff) and they can’t give them absentee ballots,” Marci Andino, executive director of the Election Commission said late Monday afternoon. She said the Commission’s filing was seeking a ruling without a hearing, but that she had received no word that one had been issued by 5 p.m.

South Carolina: South Carolina Election Commission to consider 7th District runoff | The Post and Courier

Election officials were set Friday to consider a runoff between the top two vote-getters in the Democratic race for South Carolina’s new 7th congressional district. Members of the state’s Election Commission are mulling if they will order the face-off between Coastal Carolina professor Gloria Bromell Tinubu and attorney Preston Brittain, who finished first and second, respectively, in Tuesday’s primary. At issue is whether to count the votes of state Rep. Ted Vick, who withdrew May 25 following an arrest for drunken driving, but remained on the ballot. Without Vick’s more than 2,300 votes, Bromell Tinubu won the four-way race outright, with 52 percent of the vote to Brittain’s 39 percent. But five names were on the ballot. Both the Democratic Party and Brittain’s campaign argue none of the five received a majority, so a runoff is necessary; otherwise, voters are being disenfranchised, they argue.

South Carolina: Bill would allow voters to register online |

A bill allowing South Carolina residents to register to vote online advanced Thursday. A House Judiciary panel approved the bill, which has been advocated as a way to save money and create a more reliable database of voter information. The full committee is expected to take it up next week. David Becker of the Washington-based Pew Center on the States said nine states already use the secure, online system, and three more are working toward it. The first was Arizona in 2002. The director of Pew’s election initiatives said the system is easier for voters, involves less paperwork and is therefore less prone to inaccuracies. It was a rare unanimous vote on an election bill. Democrats have spent the last few years fighting election bills pushed through by the Legislature’s Republican majority. But Rep. Bakari Sellers, the lone Democrat on the panel, praised the online registration bill as a great idea.

South Carolina: Dead Wrong? Election Official Disputes Claim That Deceased Voted in South Carolina | Columbia Free Times

A top state election official disputes a recent claim that more than 950 people who voted in recent elections could actually be dead. Of the six names her office was allowed to examine, all were eligible to vote. But to hear some Republican officials tell it, you’d think that on Election Day in South Carolina, graveyards all across the state empty out and hordes of zombie voters lurch to the polls. But dead people can’t vote. They’re dead.

South Carolina: Charge of ‘dead voters’ disputed |

“Zombies” are not voting in South Carolina, the state’s top election official said Wednesday, disputing claims by another state official that more than 950 dead voters have cast ballots in S.C. elections. Marci Andino, director of the S.C. State Election Commission, testified before a House panel that some of the voters the Department of Motor Vehicles claims are dead actually are alive. “In many cases, these are people that our (county election officials) know, and these people are very much alive,” Andino said.

South Carolina: Deputies recover voting machine from Atlantic Beach |

After refusing to turn over voting machines used in the November election, Atlantic Beach officials were forced Tuesday to hand them over after Horry County Sheriff’s deputies came to the town a court order. Horry County typically delivers voting machines the day before the election and picks them up the day after the election, Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said in an email. Atlantic Beach repeatedly refused — in person, by phone and by email — to return the machines that were last used in the Nov. 1 vote, according to court documents.

“Atlantic Beach would not release our equipment, this was the only way to get them back,” Bourcier said. The county plans to review the machines, she said but referred questions about any actions or investigations to the state election commission.

The S.C. State Election Commission could not be reached Tuesday, but a letter that executive director Marci Andino sent to Horry County Voters Registration and Election Director Sandy Martin on Monday advised the county to take immediate action.

South Carolina: Agency faces tough balancing act with voter ID regulations | Aiken Standard

Back in 2004, Marci Andino was accused of shilling for corporate America and the Republican Party as she rolled out the state’s new electronic voting machines. Those complaints continue to this day, as critics insist that machines that don’t spit out paper receipts to voters are subject to manipulation and stolen elections.

Then over the past couple of years, the director of the State Election Commission got some harsh looks from GOP lawmakers when she joined county election officials in calling for an open early voting system. Democrats love and Republicans hate early voting, which election professionals argue would help keep lines moving on Election Day, at minimum cost, by replacing the restricted absentee voting procedure that more and more people are using illegally to vote in advance.