Thousands of votes in the 2010 general election were counted incorrectly in South Carolina. Not only were these votes counted incorrectly, the State Election Commission (SEC) is ignoring state law that requires a recount and federal law that requires that the entirety of the data files from an election be retained for 22 months.
These reasonable obligations were not followed despite concerns raised by the League of Women Voters of South Carolina (LWVSC) about potential problems with our voting machines. The League has not detected any corrections that would have overturned election results, but the audit of the results is not complete.
Given the large number of votes incorrectly recorded and the pervasiveness of errors, it is entirely possible that some close elections have been decided incorrectly in the past.
This year, researchers associated with the LWVSC performed a recount of the vote in the 2010 general election for 14 counties and identified thousands of miscounted votes. After this group discovered errors in the certified totals in Richland, Horry and Colleton counties, the SEC employed a contractor to write computer programs that will, for the first time since buying the Election Systems & Software (ES&S) equipment, recount the vote.
Additional errors in the reported vote have now been found and more counties remain to be examined. The SEC is now attempting a statewide recount of the 2010 general election.
But there is a problem — the SEC can’t find thousands of the votes needed to do a recount.
Federal law requires that the vote data files be retained for 22 months, but in some counties (including Orangeburg and Lancaster) no electronic vote data are available. In some other counties (including Charleston) thousands of the votes are missing from the electronic data.