Elections Battle Vs. Voter Trust

Embattled local elections office compromises voter confidence, says official

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By Monique Williams

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) -- South Carolina Elections Commission officials say it's not impossible for Richland County Elections and Voter Registration to rebuild public trust, but it won't be easy.

Interim director for Richland County Elections and Voter Registration, Samuel Selph's contentious relationship with former director Howard Jackson isn't over.

"He told me he had an agenda when he got here," said Jackson at a press briefing last week.

"I don't know what the former director's interest in doing what he's doing or what he did. I don't have an agenda," said Selph.

Selph's comments come on the heels of fired director Jackson turning over additional documents to State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agents Friday accusing the Richland County
Elections and Voter Registration board, of which Selph was a member before resigning to become interim director, of criminal wrongdoing.

It was Jackson, though, claims Selph, who had questionable practices while on the job.

"We had employees brought to tears about things they've gone through in this office."

Jackson blasted the board in a tell-all media briefing last week, claiming board members, specifically Selph, made it impossible for him to do his job. He says micro-managing led to ridiculously long lines, non-working voting machines, thousands of uncounted ballots, and subsequent voter trust squashed. Jackson was immediately fired after his press briefing and Selph appointed as interim.

"Richland County will never go forward under this board's leadership," said Jackson.

State Elections Commission spokesperson, Chris Whitmire, cautions voters not to get swayed by the perceived drama behind the scenes, especially with a county special election in Blythewood a week away.

"To get jaded and not go vote because you have a couple of bad [elections] is doing a disservice to people who shed blood, sweat and tears to have what we have today."

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