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Richland County missed 74 absentee ballots during Democratic primary

It's another blow for a county with repeated election issues in recent years

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Richland County's Interim Elections Director Terry Graham said 74 absentee ballots were missed in their initial county Saturday, calling the situation "unfortunate." 

On Saturday night, County election staff realized the number of absentee voters did not match the number of absentee ballots. Eventually, they found the missing 74 ballots in absentee envelopes, which had been opened but not scanned, according to Graham.

The state's new voting machines require voters to put a blank paper ballot into a machine, choose their candidate, remove the marked ballot from the machine, and place through a scanner.

During in-person absentee voting at the Richland County elections office, there was another step, voters had to place their ballots in an envelope after scanning and place those envelopes in lock boxes. It's unclear if the same process was implemented in every early voting location. 

Graham said his staff scanned the ballots after finding them and the numbers matched. He said there was no impact on final results.

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"Thank God we didn't certify that, and I wasn't going to certify it till I found those votes," Graham said over the phone.

"It's unfortunate that it happened," Graham added.

It's the latest blow to the County after years of election issues.

Last year, Governor Henry McMaster fired the entire Richland County Elections Board after more than 1,000 votes weren't counted in the November 2018 general election.

The missed votes in 2018 eventually led to the removal of the former director in May of 2019, after confusion if he had resigned months earlier.

Shortly thereafter, the interim director resigned, leading to Graham's promotion to the role. 

WLTX has reached out to the State Election Commission for comment.