So let me get this straight.
The 2012 elections in Richland County were nothing short of disastrous. Less than half of the requisite number of machines were deployed. Voters stood in line for hours and were disenfranchised in record numbers. Uncounted ballots made headlines for weeks. Incompetence and dysfunction became synonymous with our county elections. So when the Old Guard (“OG”) swooped in to save the former Director, with blatant disregard for voters and their uncounted ballots, the question wasn’t if problems would resurface. It was simply a matter of when.
But don’t ever underestimate the power of the OG. They did their due diligence…at the expense of Richland County voters, of course. And after lying, cheating and stealing their way to a “new” hand-picked Director and Commissioners, our consolation prize was an empty bag of endless assurances that uncounted ballots and poorly managed elections were a thing of the past.
Fast-forward 12 months and here we are again…
“New” County Elections Director. City election. Smaller scope. Simpler process. What better opportunity to begin to restore voter confidence and showcase the “new and improved” Richland County Elections Commission?
Oops! Almost forgot to mention one little problem. There is no new and improved Richland County Elections Commission. Actually, there never was.
Now the OG may not be the brightest candles in the bunch, but this ain’t rocket science. And while I’m not one to say, “I told you so,” I must admit … it sure is tempting.
So if you’re wondering how, in a smaller City election, over 1,100 ballots weren’t counted, you’re not alone. And if this “preview” of what’s to come in 2014 has helped restore your confidence in the OG’s Election Commission, then you probably need to start packing a lunch and an overnight bag for your 2014 “Election Day Camp-out Excursion.”
But if you’re as tired of this foolishness as the rest of us and want to make sure your vote is counted and your voice is heard in 2014 and beyond, start taking names and holding these elected officials and their appointees accountable for shutting you out of the process and denying you your fundamental right.
And since you obviously don’t mind standing, perhaps you’ll stand with your more progressive members of the Richland County Legislative Delegation (yes…there are a few of us) as we fight to free the County’s elections process from our Delegation’s undue influence and move the process and oversight away from the County’s OG to more capable hands. Let’s face it … the OG and their hand-picked cronies obviously shouldn’t be running our County elections.
Maybe yours wasn’t one of the 1,100 uncounted ballots this time. Maybe you weren’t even disenfranchised last time. But if the OG has its way, your day is coming. And if the recent city election is any indication, probably sooner than later. So whether you’re having a 2012 Election Day flashback or a 2014 preview, it’s time to stand up and be counted. Your vote is your voice.
Tell the OG … they’ve got to GO.
Mia McLeod represents District 79 (Richland County) in the South Carolina House of Representatives.