On election night, the Palmetto State had its problems for sure.
Residents of Aiken County have surely read and heard about the wait times, the four-day process to count write-ins to determine the winner of the Aiken County treasurer's race and the wrong ballots passed out at a precinct in North Augusta.
Residents who've kept up with state news know Richland County had it a bit worse. The county reported wait times of more than four hours, recounts and a vote count that took until this past Wednesday to complete.
But it could have been worse.
In Aiken, legislators and election officials are still sifting through the rubble left behind by a tumultuous Election Day that drew numerous complaints from across the county.
“I think we, as a delegation, will do whatever it takes to fix the issues, and I think the county will do whatever it can to help,” S.C. Rep. Roland Smith, R-Warrenville, said.
Smith, who is the chairman of the delegation office that oversees regulations and elections, told Aiken Standard last week that he received numerous complaints ranging from long lines due to a lack of machines to some poll managers not being trained properly on the laptop computers they used at polling centers to determine which ballot to hand to voters.
Executive Director of Aiken County Registrations and Elections Cynthia Holland agreed that there were not enough machines but denied last week that poll managers weren't trained properly, saying, “That's not true. This is the first year we had laptops, and I trained them on that.”
Holland withstood a grilling from the delegation last Monday over the Election Day issues, but the delegation did not make a decision on what to do going forward.
An hour away in Richland County, the voting fiasco drew national attention. State officials said that Richland was the only county in the state that had reported “serious” problems.
Long wait lines and broken machines on Election Day led to some voters not being able to even cast their ballots until after the 7 p.m. deadline. Richland's election office had enough machines – one per every 305 voters – well more than the law's minimum of 1 per 250, but more than 100 were left unused at the election office on Election Day.
The S.C. Supreme Court eventually had to step in and require law enforcement to return voting machines and ballots to the election's office so the final numbers could be submitted by noon Nov. 9.
Even after that and the announcement on Nov. 4 that the final numbers were in, it was reported Nov. 15 by The State that nearly 200 more ballots were found in bags at the Richland County election's office.
South Carolina has had its problems before.
In the 2008 Republican presidential primary in Horry County, for example, touch-screen voting machines in 80 percent of the precincts temporarily failed. When precincts ran out of paper ballots, voters could not cast ballots in their home precincts.
According to the website countingvotes.org, a report published by Rutgers University, Common Cause and the Verified Voting Foundation states that South Carolina's voting procedures rank as “Needs Improvement,” just above the worst grade given out, which is “Inadequate.”
The report ranked South Carolina as one of the five least-prepared states, “to catch voting system problems and to protect voters from disenfranchisement due to equipment failures.”
In Broward County, Fla., a place familiar with voting troubles, long lines and a four-day delay to determine the presidency plagued the Gold Coast residents. Broward was the last of Florida's 67 counties to finish counting ballots, a week to the day after the election.
In Florida, advocacy groups, such as the NAACP, Women Voters and AARP, have called on Gov. Rick Scott to appoint a task force to get to the bottom of the election problems that included lines lasting six hours and a reduction in early-voting days that may also have led to the problem.
President Barack Obama was officially declared the winner of Florida's 29 electoral votes four days after the election was over. The state just barely avoided having to do yet another recount, similar to the 2000 election.
That same year, a task force was created to figure out and alleviate the problems of election day.
This year, across the country in King County, Wash., voting day problems were even worse. The state's largest county was the hub of voting troubles in the nation's last state to send in final numbers from Election Day.
Two days after the election, 30 states and the District of Columbia had counted virtually 100 percent of their ballots. Twelve states were about 99 percent finished, and the rest were at least 95 percent done with counting votes.
Washington was at 76 percent.
Three major contests hung in the balance in King County as the days passed: for governor, secretary of state and a ballot measure on whether to allow charter schools. Two days after Election Day, 250,000 of roughly a million ballots cast were yet to be counted.
Washington is a vote-by-mail state, but unlike Oregon, which has the same system and had counted 95 percent of votes two days after the election, Washington only asks that votes be postmarked by Election Day.
In Oregon, votes have to be received by Election Day.
Add to that broken ballot-counting machines and workers at the election's office going home at 8:30 p.m. or earlier, and the Northwestern state had a ways to go.
“I think people were not really prepared for the tasks that laid ahead of them or the number of people that turned out to vote,” Smith said of the voting problems that plagued places all over the nation.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.
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