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Chaos, corruption, and miscounts; Richland County Elections Board fires director

Richland County Elections Board in Columbia, SC, is mired down in one of the biggest ethical fails since the hanging chad fiasco in Florida. On Monday the board shocked the city when they suddenly announced that they were firing Richland County Elections Director Howard Jackson, effective this Friday, less than a year after they hired him.

Jackson did not go quietly. He immediately announced that he had some startling revelations of his own and would hold a press conference the next day. At Tuesday’s press conference Jackson came out swinging with fiery allegations of messy voting practices, missing absentee ballots, and racist hiring practices by the elections board.

Jackson inherited a sticky situation that he claims he was determined to clean up. He was hired after a public outcry for the firing of then Elections Director Lillian McBride. During the presidential election many of the local precincts were short of voting booths or had multiple voting booths that were malfunctioning, leading to some voters having to stand in line up to seven hours to vote.

Instead of firing McBride, the board allowed her to resign, and then hired her right back as the Deputy Elections Director. This lack of accountability is symptomatic of many of the problems that Jackson claims the board covers up rather than corrects.

After Jackson’s candid press conference, the board held an emergency meeting and voted to move Jackson’s last day from Friday to effective immediately. Not to be outdone, Jackson said that he had evidence of corruption in the elections board that he planned to turn over to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Thom Berry, SLED spokesperson, confirmed that Jackson turned in evidence to SLED on Wednesday, but declined to disclose the nature of the evidence pending investigation.