The interim director of the S.C. State Election Commission (SCVotes.gov) penned a brutally direct letter to the head of the scandal-scarred Richland county board of registration and elections on Friday – blasting the agency’s “documented and witnessed history of negligence” and the “eroded voter confidence” that has resulted from it.
“Richland county has had documented election issues for over a decade, and this is just the latest episode in a long saga,” SCVotes.gov director Howie Knapp wrote in a letter to Richland county election czarina Alexandria Stephens dated November 19, 2021.
The “latest episode” referenced by Knapp involves the widespread irregularities reported in multiple precincts during the 2021 Columbia, S.C. municipal runoff between mayor-elect Daniel Rickenmann and city councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine on Tuesday.
Of interest? These irregularities appeared to be limited exclusively to precincts won by Rickenmann during the first round of balloting on November 2, 2021.
Sounds familiar? It should …
This is essentially what happened during the infamous “Richland county robbery” – a rigged 2012 election in which illegal shortages of voting machines were targeted in fiscally conservative precincts to help push through a $1.2 billion tax hike.
The ultimate outcome of the election is not the issue as far as I am concerned, though.
“Whichever candidate prevailed, state officials have the same affirmative obligation to verify the integrity of the outcome,” I wrote earlier this week. “They must fulfill that obligation, and anyone who violated the integrity of the city’s electoral process must be held accountable.”
That process began earlier this week with a hand count audit of the runoff results, which Knapp told me on Friday “matched up” with the totals recorded on Tuesday.
Does that mean the case is closed? Hell no …
Officials still need to ascertain why pro-Rickenmann precincts experienced such a wide range of issues during the peak “morning commute” voting period on Tuesday. And again, hold those responsible accountable.
In the meantime, Knapp has requested a meeting with Stephens “following the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday,” according to his letter.
“It is imperative we meet to discuss your plans to rectify these issues and begin restoring trust in Richland county elections,” Knapp wrote.
Stay tuned …
THE LETTER …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that New York Mets’ lid pictured above).
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