Richland County, SC (WLTX) - Absentee voting has begun here in South Carolina, and problems continue to pop up at the Richland County Election Office.
More than 25,090 ballots have already been issued in Richland County--of those, 12,670 of those were mailed. But when one voter got hers, she was surprised to see what her ballot looked like.
Peggy Linton was a school teacher for more than 30 years, so she's interested in the Richland One School Board Election and she was also a polling place captain for several years. So when she got the ballot with nothing on the back, she knew something was wrong. "And when I vote, I go, 'Oh, people running for school board are not in there," she explains. "And then I flip to the back of the Ballot and then its blank."
Linton says she made a call to the Richland County Election Commission and says this is what they told her "She says, 'No ma'am your ballot has something on the back.' And I said, 'No ma'am, I'm looking at my ballot and it has nothing on the back.' She says, 'You need to come in, in person and bring the ballot.'"
In order to answer the questions we had, News 19 first called the Richland County Elections Commission. After our call was not returned, we went to the office and were told the director was not there. So then we went to the South Carolina State Election Commission and spoke with Chris Whitmire, who while we were there, made some calls to get to the bottom of what happened.
He tells News 19 that it was a printing error. "In that process of printing with that highspeed printer, sometimes it picks up two pieces of paper and prints the front the front and the back to the second piece of paper," he said. Whitmire adds there are safeguards in place, and those mistakes are supposed to be kicked out.
This one got mailed out, however, but he says they believe this is an isolated incident. Whitmire spoke with the company who prints and mails out the ballots, and they explained how this mistake happened, and assured him that was the only one. He also says he spoke with the Richland County Elections office who verified all other ballots have both sides printed.
But he says, "Certainly if anyone else has a ballot that says continue voting on back in the bottom right corner, that indicates there should be offices on the back side. If there is nothing on the back side, contact your county voter registration office, that s where anothe ballot will come from." He also says that you should not have to go into the office to get another ballot.
If you do get what you believe is a faulty ballot, Whitmire says to call the South Carolina State Election Commission because they want to be made aware of any problems. He also tells News 19 that Richland County has said they will reach out to Linton to ensure she gets a ballot that is printed correctly.