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S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster on Thursday fired the entire Richland County elections board, three months after the agency failed to count more than 1,000 votes in the 2018 election and a day after a chaotic board meeting that highlighted the agency’s dysfunction.
“South Carolinians’ confidence in the lawful and professional oversight of elections must never be jeopardized,” McMaster said in a news release. “The repeated actions and behavior of these officials are wholly unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. To regain and maintain Richland County voters’ confidence at the ballot box, the entire board must be replaced with new leadership.”
Board - Chairwoman - Jane - Emerson - Board
Acting board chairwoman Jane Emerson and board members Peter Kennedy, Sylvia Holley and Shirley Mack were ousted immediately by the governor’s order. One seat already was open after former chairwoman Adell Adams’ term expired last fall. Holley’s term also had expired — in 2016 — but she remained on the board because the Richland County legislative delegation, which names members to the board, never picked a replacement.
McMaster’s decision surprised Richland County lawmakers — some who are excited to pick new members to turn the elections agency around, and others who are concerned the agency charged with registering voters now has a leadership void.
Firing - Dysfunction - State - Litany - County
The firing also highlights the dysfunction that can arise among the state’s litany of under-the-radar county commissions. These boards’ members are picked by legislators but can be removed only by the governor.
S.C. governors seldom have exercised that authority. But most recently, former Gov. Nikki Haley in 2016 ousted six of the seven members of the Richland County Recreation Commission after the board ignored allegations the director sexually harassed and abused employees.
Governor - Announcement - Weeks - News - County
The governor’s announcement comes two weeks after news the county elections agency failed to count more than 1,000 votes in the 2018 general election, or about 1 percent of the votes...
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