Hamm: "We have a constitutional right to vote."

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By Crandall Sims

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- "The meaningful number is not how many machines you see when you walk into your precinct. The meaningful number is how many of those are working," says Steve Hamm, Attorney for the Richland County Election Commission.

When addressing the Columbia Rotary Club Monday, Steve Hamm managed to get a bit of laughter from the crowd.

Hamm's primary topic was the Election Day debacle in Richland County.

"The standard is we have a constitutional right to vote," says Hamm.

Hundreds of thousands turned out to express that right packing 124 precincts across the county last November. But, there was one big problem.

Hamm says instead of having the 86 machines required by state law, there were 577 at the start of Election Day.

The machine mishap caused wait times up to five hours and while burdensome, Hamm says voters are not immune to it.

"You do not have a constitutional right to a perfect election," says Hamm.

And the election was anything but. In the days following, there were court battles and numerous uncounted votes found in bags, even voting machines.

However, Hamm says this year showed progress when compared to to uncounted votes in previous years.

"In the 2010, General Election we had almost 1100 uncounted votes," says Hamm.

Hamm says this year's total saw an 87% reduction.

The election debacle also caused two resignations.

One from now-former Richland County Election Commission Board Chairperson, Liz Crum.

The other from now-former Richland County Election Commission Executive Director Lillian McBride.

McBride has since moved into a new position with Voter Registration.

And even after considering all the problems, Hamm says the election was not a total loss.

"I believe the results of Election, as many problems as it had, the results should stand," says Hamm

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