Restoring Voter Confidence in Richland County

State officials say the county needs to 'get it right' regarding future elections

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By Monique Williams

Blythewood, S.C. (WOLO) -- The upcoming election to fill a town council seat in Blythewood will be a true litmus test. It's an otherwise minor special election, but state officials say the Richland county Elections and Voter Registration office needs to get right if it will ever regain voter confidence.

"This will discourage people from coming out to vote because they think there will be problems," said Dawn Woodrow, a registered voter in Blythewood.

"I think we are concerned with voting lines and voting honesty, said Linda Grant, another voter.

State election commission spokesperson, Chris Whitmire says voter confidence is of the utmost importance.

"If people don't trust elections, it doesn't matter if they're correct or not."

Whitmire says Richland County's recent history that included long lines, non-working voting machines, uncounted absentee ballots and battles over leadership need not be repeated. He claims Blythewood's special election next Tuesday and the primary June 10 are two opportunities for the county to redeem itself.

"Over time when you prove you can do better then you rebuild that trust."

Interim director at the Richland County Elections and Voter Registration office, Sam Selph, claims past mistakes are just that and voters should feel confident their ballot will be handled with care.

"We expect a smooth, fair and efficient election in Blythewood next Tuesday," said Selph.

Blythewood Park on Boney Rd. is the one precinct folks will use to case their ballot next Tuesday. Five machines are being prepped to accommodate up to 1,700 registered voters. ABC Columbia News asked the town mayor his thoughts and he said "I think it'll go smooth."

There will be many people watching to see if that happens.
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