Complaints from across Aiken County came in on Tuesday and the days following the election ranging from long wait times to wrong ballots being filled out by voters in North Augusta.
The complaints made to Rep. Roland Smith were such, that as Chairman of the delegation office that oversees regulations and elections, he said an investigation will be necessary.
“There has been a substantial number of complaints,” Smith said. “We're going to get to the bottom of it and any corrections that will be made, I'm sure the delegation will make. I think the delegation will hold them responsible.”
With final voting numbers being made available on Thursday, 67,498 of 102,426 registered Aiken County voters cast their ballots for this year's election. The record turnout brought problems with it.
Among the complaints that Smith received were the long lines due to a lack of voting machines in some precincts, Sunday alcohol sales not being on some North Augusta ballots and polling managers not being properly trained.
“I've also heard the managers complain they were not properly trained to use the laptops at the polling center,” Smith said.
Executive Director of Aiken County Regulations and Elections Cynthia Holland vehemently denied Smith's claims of managers not being trained on the laptops, which were used to assist managers with assigning the right ballots to voters.
“That's not true,” Holland said of the accusation. “This is the first year we had laptops, and I trained them on that.”
She added that the report was inaccurate “as far as I'm concerned,” and she acknowledged that managers had to swear under oath they were prepared to perform election tasks under state law.
Pertaining to the Sunday alcohol sales complaints, according to Holland, only one precinct had ballot issues and they found out that some voters were not receiving the right ballot after 400 votes were lodged at that precinct.
In all, 8,462 votes were cast on the local question about Sunday alcohol sales with 5,732, or 67.7 percent, voting yes. Holland said they are unaware of how many voters received the wrong ballot, but even if all 400 had, it would not affect the outcome of the “yes” vote.
As for a lack of machines, Smith said he heard multiple complaints about long wait times and multiple machine problems.
“There's no excuse for there not to be enough voting machines for the numbers (that voted) ... We had enough (machines) at the last presidential elections,” Smith said.
He added that he also heard complaints about the machines' batteries not being charged and therefore not functional throughout the day.
Holland said she didn't believe they had enough machines for Tuesday's elections, and knew months ago they would need more. Aiken County had 430 machines for Tuesday, and 20 were left at the elections office.
“I did request additional funding for additional machines, but I didn't receive it,” Holland said. “We did what we could with what we had.”
County Administrator Clay Killian acknowledged that Holland asked for 10 additional machines and four Americans with Disabilities Act machines, totaling $31,000. He said her request was denied due to budget limitations.
Under South Carolina state law, each precinct should carry one machine for every 250 registered voters. For Aiken County, 409 machines minimum were required for Tuesday.
And as far as machines not being charged, Holland said that should not have mattered because the machines “were supposed to be plugged in.”
She also added that she was not aware of any voter fraud allegations and that she supported her employees and the hard work that has been put in, even as they continued to count write-in ballots into the evening on Thursday.
“I don't want to say Election Day was perfect, we all have hiccups, but we got as close as we can and we work very, very hard,” Holland said. “I think the office has done a wonderful job.”
Smith said that he will notify the delegation of the problems and present his plan to fix them at this Monday's regularly scheduled meeting.
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