Audit: 1,100 Absentee Ballots Not Counted in Richland County

6:52 PM, Nov 21, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The Richland County Election Commission now says 1,100 absentee ballots from the most recent election weren't counted.

Richland County Elections Director Howard Jackson updated the public about the issue Thursday afternoon involving the November 5th municipal elections.

The problem was discovered during an audit of the results conducted by the State Election Commission. The audit found a discrepancy between the number of votes cast and the number of votes certified by the county and city.

For example, in the Columbia mayoral race, Columbia certified results showed that Steve Benjamin received 9,937 votes, while Moe Baddourah got 5,433. The audit, however, found 10,402 votes for Benjamin and 5,594 for Baddourah.

The error means that 3.7 percent of total votes cast were not counted.

According to Jackson, a personal electronic ballot (PEB), a device, was not included in the results.

Jackson says the uncounted votes would not have changed the results of any races, but calls the omission "unacceptable." He also promised that all  PEBs would be counted during the December 3rd strong-mayor referendum vote in Richland County.

This error comes only a year after the 2012 election mess, when voters had to wait as long as seven hours to cast a ballot after too few voting machines were out at precints. As a result of that problem, former elections director Lillian McBride resigned and took another job within the agency, and Jackson was eventually picked to lead the agency.

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