Lee Co. Election Board Faces Questions

Bishopville, SC (WLTX) -- Members of the Lee County legislative delegation are trying to figure out how to fill at least five spots left open by members of the county's election board.

It comes after four members of the board resigned without warning, and could spell problems for the county's voters.

"I'm concerned about what happened in this county. We were just concerned because not only the director retired the whole board resigned,"

Hannah Hickmon said she's been voting in Lee County for 35 years without any problems, so it came as a surprise when she tried to help another person register but was not able to do it.

The problem was that, unknown to Hickmon at the time, the Director of the county's election board had retired. Three election board members later resigned, leaving just one member and two staffers to run the office, officials said.

"State Sen. Thomas Mcelveen, D-Sumter, is one of three members of the county's legislative delegation and says the resignations came without warning to him as well.

"My over-riding concern, first and foremost, is that the people of Lee County get a fair election that's conducted properly," McElveen said. "With an election some 80 days away, I'm not convinced that we can appoint new board members and then have them, in turn, hire a new director and get the training done and have an election organized by Nov. 4"

McElveen said about 8,000 people fall into his legislative district in Lee County.

McElveen and members of the legislative delegation will need to choose between five and nine people they want to take over the board. Board members will in turn hire an election director, according to officials at the State Election Commission.

"That's a lot of things to happen in a relatively quick period of time," said McElveen.

Members of the county's legislative delegation tell News19 the office has been getting help from Darlington County's election director.

Lee County's election staff will need to work fast to meet a Sept. 20 deadline for absentee ballots,so says State Election Commission spokesman, Chris Whitmire.

"If one county fails, we all fail," Whitemire said. "We're all working together to make sure lee county doesn't fall through the cracks."

Questions remained for Hickmon.
" Will people be able to register to vote? Will people be able to get their ID?" she questioned.

The delegation said they hope to have recommendations on who to appoint to the county's election board in about 10 days.

The State Election Commission said they must have at least five appointments ready by Nov. 7, when votes are certified three days after the election.


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