Initial Report on Richland County General Election Debacle

Richland County experienced a major failure in election procedures on November 6, 2012. It is well established that too few machines were delivered to precincts. The unreliability of the iVotronic machines combined with the delivery failure produced long lines , much frustration, and discouraged many people from voting.

There are at least three underlying problems: the iVotonic machines are unreliable and over-complicated; South Carolina Election Commission have been untrained and unprofessional; the members of the SC Legislature have shown no interest in protected and extending the right to vote.

Green Party members have noticed these problems going back to at least 2008:

When a Florida state commission’s investigation found Electronic Systems & Software’s iVotronic machines to be unreliable, SC Electoral Commission spokesperson Gary Baum reacted by saying that SC would buy the machines rejected by Florida. Baum said to the Spartanburg Herald Journal, Other states have had problems, which have led to questions about our system,” Baum said. “But things that apply to other states don’t apply to South Carolina.

Gary Baum is currently deputy director of the Richland County Election Commission.

It would be wrong to blame the personnel, or the machines, or the oversight when all have failed to produce a transparent and open voting system.   We have a patronage-run political machine appointing disinterested managers to oversee second-hand equipment.   Local and state politicians regard elections as a means of protecting their incumbency.  As Columbia Free-Times editor Dan Cook writes:

South Carolinians, and Richland County voters in particular: If you’re counting on your elected officials to usher in a new era of accountability, you’re going to be waiting for a long time. Whether the issue is health care, election reform or ethics reform, you’re seemingly caught between the rigid ideology of the right at the state level and the hidebound cronyism of the left at the local level.

Organizing to changed the hidebound politics of our city, county and state doesn’t just mean lobbying the powers that be, but building community organizations outside the old patronage networks.  Work “through letters, phone calls, emails, attendance at meetings and posts on social media” and by building the Green Party.  After all, as Cook says,

Politics as usual is not inevitable. We don’t have to live with rigid ideologues dictating policy at the state level and tone-deaf party bosses steamrolling the will of the people at the local level.

We just choose to.


Richland Election Commission, McBride, Hamm

Revised report from Steve Hamm’s office concerning the Richland County Board of Election’s apparent failure to properly administer the 2012 election – Many blamed; no one disciplined yet. Clif LeBlanc. The State, Friday, December 7, 2012.