New Richland Co. elections director promises transparency, smoother election process come November

Alexandria Stephens is the board's first full-time director in two years

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —Richland County’s new elections director says her team has been working hard to make sure November’s general election goes smoothly, in contrast of what happened during the June 9 primary.

Several voters in Richland County had to wait in line for hours, received inaccurate information on which polling place to vote at, and some even cast their vote on incomplete ballots.

The State Election Commission even had to step in to make sure the June 23 run-offs ran smoothly.

Now, after six years of facilitating elections in one of Alabama’s largest counties, Alexandria Stephens, the first full-time elections leader Richland County has had in more than a year, says her team is working tirelessly to ensure there are no issues come November.

“One of our board members always says November 3 is tomorrow, so that’s how we’re treating it. We have sat down and come up with a plan to recruit more poll workers, and we actually have additional staff coming in to recruit more poll workers and do more training,” Stephens told ABC Columbia.

Charles P. Austin Sr., the Chair of the Richland County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, praised Stephens’s experience, especially when it comes to handling presidential election cycles, and says the board supports her moves towards transparency and increased community involvement.

Stephens tells ABC Columbia that more than 1,500 people have applied to work the polls on Election Day. 

Knowing that the lingering COVID-19 pandemic could scare some people from helping out, Stephens says her team has a plan in place to keep them safe.

“Of course we’ll be following the CDC guidelines as far as practicing social distancing, all of our poll workers will be provided with PPE, and they will be trained on how to conduct elections under these conditions,” Stephens said.

Stephens said her team is making sure there are enough machines at each polling place and that no precinct has to be combined this time around.

Even as her team pushes forward towards November, Stephens says the one goal of her tenure is to regain the public’s trust.

“What I’m promoting here is teamwork,” Stephens said. “We all have to work together and we’re all working towards that same common goal, which is to restore the faith and the public confidence in the electoral process here in Richland County.”

The General Election is set to take place November 3. For more information on how to register to vote or become a poll worker, click here

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