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Personnel changes needed at Richland Election Commission

Photo courtesy of

From Friday’s The State (@adambeam)

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — State Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Richland, said Friday officials should fire elections director Lillian McBride.

“If the other members of the Richland Delegation and the County Election Board listen to our citizens, I believe they will come to the same conclusion,” Ballentine said in a news release.

He is the first member of the county’s delegation to publicly call for her dismissal.

McBride has been criticized for her office’s handling of the Nov. 6 general election, after a balloting mess that prompted lawsuits, intervention by a circuit court and the state’s highest court and triggered election protests. Some Richland County voters had to wait in line for up to seven hours to vote and, in some cases, cast their ballots well past midnight. Other voters, faced with massive lines, left polling places in frustration without casting ballots.

It took Richland County elections officials more than a week to certify the results. In one race, County Council District 9, officials initially ruled incumbent Val Hutchinson had won only to discover later she had lost to Democratic challenger Julie-Ann Dixon.

It is unclear who has the authority to fire McBride: the Richland County legislative delegation, to whom she directly reports, or the county Election Commission. An Attorney General’s opinion earlier this week said a court likely would side with the county election board. Thursday, Election Commission members voted to accept that opinion.

Ballentine suggested other changes he said would help future elections.

“Personnel changes are simply not enough however, and I believe my colleagues and I should consider legislation that will directly hold local election commissions more accountable,” Ballentine said. “Additionally, I think we need to reduce the size of each precinct in our county. As a state official, I will work on legislation to do just that.”

Video courtesy of ABC Columbia

WANTED: Board of Voter Registration and Elections


From the Post and Courier

Gov. McMaster removes elections board in SC’s capital county that missed 1,040 votes
By Andy Shain

Ballentine said he is not surprised McMaster decided to fire all board members

“This all shows the importance of who we place on these boards and commissions,” Ballentine said. “We have not filled these posts with the most qualified people.”

Until a debacle involving the delegation-appointed county Recreation Commission in 2016, the legislative delegation voted on an entire slate of board nominees that came from a special application review committee and could not make changes, Ballentine said.

The 17-member delegation also met just once a year, unlike the Lexington County lawmakers who gather about six times a year, said Ballentine, whose district includes both counties.

“There is no oversight (in Richland),” he said. “We had no idea what these people were doing after they were appointed.”

PREVIOUSLY ON NATHAN’S NEWS: Election Mess , Recreation Mess

Elections update: Richland County needs poll workers

Are you interested in working at the polls on Election Day? Poll Workers are needed in Richland County to serve at the polls on election day.

The deadline for applying to be a poll worker for the June Primary is now TOMORROW Thursday, May 8.

To accommodate the 25 new precincts due to be in operation for the June 10 Primary, 300 extra poll workers were needed. They are close to reaching that goal, however, there is a real need for workers in our community, the Northwest area of the County – specifically Irmo and Chapin.

The poll worker coordinator suggested that this close to the deadline, it would be more expediant to come into the Election Commission office located at 2020 Hampton Streetto fill out the paperwork necessary to be considered an employee. This should not take more than 15 minutes. You will need to complete both their online training and an in-person training prior to the election. For more information, call the Election Commission at576-2200.

Each poll worker will be paid $120 for their time both training and on Election Day combined. Consider this service a way to say “thank you” to all of our public servants who fight for our right to have free and fair elections as part of our democratic republic.

Remember, the best way to insure fair and efficient elections is to have competent and honest poll workers running them.


A resident of Richland County, or an adjoining county
If age 18 +, you MUST be a qualified registered voter to work on election day
16 & 17 year olds may serve as poll managers
Complete online and in-person training
If you are interested, please contact the Election Commission Office at 576-1512 or Click Here for the Poll Worker Application.

Solutions to prevent another election fiasco

New voting precincts in Northwest Richland County, as passed by the SC House last week.

I don’t want to rehash the Richland County election fiasco last year. It still frustrates me when we realize it didn’t have to be that way and it shouldn’t have been that way for thousands in our county.

While there still hasn’t been a “final report” issued by the Election Commission; I knew months ago I better not wait around for some magic fix. Instead, I’ve been working to fix what I can for the voters in Richland County.

In November, I outlined steps that I, and many of you, knew were needed. We didn’t need a final report to know just how bad this past election was managed.

First and foremost, we needed personnel changes in the County Election Office. I shared the concerns of many around the county and lead the call for changes to be made. By law, I could not directly make the needed changes; but I can (and did) voice your concerns. I also continue to work towards a better appointments process in Richland County (not just for our Election Commissioners that do make those personnel changes; but also all Richland County Boards and Commissions that are appointed by the House/Senate Delegation).

Next, we needed more accountability for elections. Since November, I’ve worked with colleagues in the House on how best to accomplish this. The bill I co-sponsored with Representative Finlay (another Richland colleague) was H.3197 . Whether the ultimate accountability will rest with the Secretary of State or, perhaps, the Election Commission, remains to be seen during upcoming hearings and floor debate.

Lastly, I helped from the State House by creating smaller voting precincts and will soon revisit early voting practices in our state. Last week, my bill to reduce precinct sizes in Northwest County passed unanimously; without any debate. H.3724 will reduce every voting precinct in the House District I represent (District 71) and help reduce wait times for the voters. This reduction in precinct sizes can help; but is not to be seen as the “cure-all”. Whether we have 1,000 voters or 3,000 voters in precincts, until the people running the elections send enough working machines as required; it won’t matter. Our voters still need at least one machine per 250 voters. The county had enough working machines last time; but they didn’t send them out as needed to get the job done for our voters. I know the map shown above is not easily viewed; but it shows smaller precincts in Northwest Richland County in order to stay below or just above 1,500 voters. In order to be fully implemented for our voters in the Irmo/Chapin community, the bill still needs to pass the Senate, the Governor, and ultimately the Department of Justice. Obviously, I’ll keep you posted along the way and appreciate any feedback you have.

In the coming weeks the House will debate early voting in South Carolina. Again, as I shared in November, this is something I could support if the final bill will improve upon the current process already in place. Many people in our state believe we have “early voting” but we don’t. What we have is “absentee voting” where you must meet certain criteria to be able to cast your vote prior to the election. Frankly, I don’t think we need people to have “an excuse” to vote early; nor do I feel they need 30 days to do so either. Hopefully we can provide a reasonable “no excuse” period to help reduce wait times on Election Day.

It’s been just a few months since the election fiasco; but wanted to follow up on the plan I shared last November and appreciate any feedback you still have on these proposals. You sent me here to serve and find solutions and I’ll continue to do so as your Representative.

Thank you for the privilege and opportunity!

More on Richland County Election Mess

Photo by Shawn Drury

From SC Patch

Just when the controversy regarding Richland County elections seemed to by dying down, events took another turn on Monday evening.

Liz Crum, the chairwoman of the Richland County Elections Commission, will resign her position, effective Tuesday morning.

Crum oversaw elections in Richland County during a horrendous 2012 Election Day that included hours-long waits to vote.

Crum, who spoke to media following the commission’s meeting on Monday evening, also called for Director Lillian McBride to step down.

“I no longer have confidence in Ms. McBride to lead elections,” said Crum, who said her decision was made harder due to the fact that she considers McBride a friend.

Crum’s position is unpaid. McBride draws approximately $89,000 per year in salary. Rep. Nathan Ballentine and Sen. John Courson have also called for McBride to be replaced. McBride did not comment on Monday when asked about Crum’s decision, nor did Gary Baum, the Assistant Director.

Ballentine reiterated his call for McBride to be replace. He gave the following statement to Patch:

“Liz Crum has listened to the overwhelming voices of Richland County voters and I thank her for understanding that personnel changes are needed to restore confidence in the election process. While Ms. Crum and only a small number of my delegation colleagues understand more changes are needed, I’m getting the feeling the Election Board – the only ones apparently able to make personnel decisions according to the Attorney General – seems to have no interest in publicly discussing the one decision everyone knows needs to be made. How many more weeks of ‘studying reports’ do they need?”

Antjuan Seawright, spokesperson for Sen. Darrell Jackson, who chairs the Richland County Legislative Delegation, said Jackson would have no comment.

Read more from The Patch

Richland County Election Analysis: Duncan Buell

I’ve never met Professor Buell (Computer Science Professor) but I hear he is very good at what he does.

So…the day after Thanksgiving, while Dutch Fork is playing for the Lower State Championship , while Karen is busy decorating the house, and – yes – the eve of the Carolina/Clemson game , I’m reviewing his data/findings.

Earlier I tweeted a few items that peaked my interest.

If you’d like to review the report, you can click here: DraftReport20121123

Of course, on Monday we finally get to hear from the Richland County Election Commission and it’s Director. Hopefully we’ll get all our questions answered and then make the decisions needed to restore the voters confidence in the election process here in the Capital City.

What questions do you have regarding the Richland County election mess?

Almost three weeks after Election Day, I’ll finally be able to get answers that you and I’ve been waiting to hear.

Today’s notification to the delegation states “the reason this meeting cannot be held any sooner is because Steve Hamm, attorney representing the Electdions Commission, will not be available until this time. It is imperative that he is in attendance for this meeting”.

Since this meeting will be a “Legislative Fact Finding Hearing”, there will be no public input; however, as your voice in the General Assembly and in Richland County, I’d like to hear from you what questions you’d like to be asked.

Post them in the comment section or contact me through the website here .

Of course, if you aren’t in the Chapin/Dutch Fork/Irmo area OR want to contact your local House member of Senator, you can click here to find him/her and do just that. (Note, newly elected House Members Beth Bernstein, MaryGail Douglas and Kirkman Finlay do not yet have email or phone contact information yet. Nor does newly elected Senator Thomas McElveen)

If you would like to attend, you may do so on Monday, November 26, 2012 at 1pm in room 105 of the Gressette Building. Should our meeting be rescheduled again, I will certainly keep you posted.

DOT Commissioner Vacancies: 2nd, 4th, 6th Congressional Districts

Rarely does the public ever learn of areas in state government where they can offer their time and talents. Usually you have to “know someone” or know who to ask or where to look.

Hopefully we have people in our state willing and able to serve on the Department of Transportation Commission. This is one of the most important commissions in our state and we need a pool of very qualified individuals to consider.

I enjoyed my time on this very prestigious screening committee before being unceremoniously removed last year; but that’s old news now. Want I want us to focus on is getting good people to continue to do good work with our state’s infrastructure needs.

Three seats on the S.C. Department of Transportation Commission will become vacant in February of 2010. A vacancy will exist in the Second, Fourth and Sixth Congressional District seats.

Pursuant to Act 114 of 2007, the Joint Transportation Review Committee is now accepting notice of intent from interested persons who intend to apply. Remember that Section 57-1-330 (A) stipulates, “For the purposes of electing a commission member, a legislator shall vote only in the congressional district in which he resides.”

Those interested must meet eligibility requirements and possess certain qualifications (see below) in order to serve.

Each term of office begins February 15, 2010 and expires February 15, 2014.

To receive application materials, prospective candidates living within these districts must notify the Committee in writing of their intent to apply before the Thursday, December 3, 2009 deadline.

The notice must include the person’s home address.

Notice and questions related to the screening process should be sent to:
David Owens
Joint Transportation Review Committee
P.O. Box 142
Columbia, S.C. 29202

More information is available at under ‘Citizens’ Interest’, then ‘Joint Transportation Review Committee’ (or better yet, click here ). Notice of intent will not be accepted after 12:00 noon on Thursday, December 3, 2009.

Joint Transportation Review Committee
Vice Chairman

(803) 212-6400

Section 57-1-310.

(A) The congressional districts of this State are constituted and created Department of Transportation Districts of the State, designated by numbers corresponding to the numbers of the respective congressional districts. The Commission of the Department of Transportation shall be composed of one member from each transportation district elected by the delegations of the congressional district and one member appointed by the Governor from the State at large. Such elections or appointment, as the case may be, shall take into account race and gender so as to represent, to the greatest extent possible, all segments of the population of the State; however, consideration of these factors in making an appointment or in an election in no way creates a cause of action or basis for an employee grievance for a person appointed or elected or for a person who fails to be appointed or elected.

(B)(1) Candidates for election to the commission must be screened by the Joint Transportation Review Committee, as provided in Article 7 of this chapter, and determined to meet the qualifications contained in subsection (C) in order to be eligible for election.

(2) The at-large appointment made by the Governor must be transmitted to the Joint Transportation Review Committee. The Joint Transportation Review Committee must determine whether the at-large appointee meets the qualifications in subsection (C) and report its findings to the General Assembly and the Governor. Until the Joint Transportation Review Committee finds a gubernatorial appointee qualified, the appointee must not take the oath of office and the full rights and privileges and powers of the office shall not vest.

(C) The qualifications that each commission member must possess, include, but are not limited to:

(1) a baccalaureate or more advanced degree from:
(a) a recognized institution of higher learning requiring face-to-face contact between its students and instructors prior to completion of the academic program;
(b) an institution of higher learning that has been accredited by a regional or national accrediting body; or
(c) an institution of higher learning chartered before 1962; or

(2) a background of at least five years in any combination of the following fields of expertise:
(a) transportation;
(b) construction;
(c) finance;
(d) law;
(e) environmental issues;
(f) management; or
(g) engineering.

The Weekly Rewind – February 8th


February 8, 2019


For more information on any bill listed, click here , and type the bill number under “Quick Search”

The House of Representatives approved and sent the Senate H.3420, legislation PREVENTING YOUTH ACCESS TO VAPING, CIGARETTES, AND OTHER TOBACCO AND NICOTINE PRODUCTS. The bill updates the “Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2006” to prohibit minors under the age of eighteen from entering retail establishments that primarily sell tobacco products, alternative nicotine products, or both, unless the minor is actively supervised and accompanied by an adult. The legislation provides for a more expansive definition of “alternative nicotine product” that specifically includes vaping. The legislation revises the restrictions governing Internet commerce and other remote sales to provide for the use of a method of mailing, shipping, or delivery that requires the signature of a person at least eighteen years of age before a tobacco product or alternative nicotine product will be released to the purchaser, unless the remote seller employs certain alternative protections to ensure age verification. The legislation requires every local school district in the state to adopt, implement, and enforce a written policy prohibiting at all times the use of any tobacco product or alternative nicotine product by any person in school buildings, in school facilities, on school campuses, and in or on any other school property owned or operated by the local school administrative unit. The policy also must prohibit the use of any tobacco product or alternative nicotine product by anyone attending an off-site school sponsored event when in the presence of students or school personnel.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3849, a joint resolution to provide a GRACE PERIOD ON THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE NEW CIGARETTE STAMP TAX REQUIREMENTS, running through October 1, 2019, to afford sellers additional time to deplete their remaining inventories of unstamped packages of cigarettes.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3595. The legislation revises the INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIP FUND TAX CREDIT to provide that the maximum annual amount is two hundred fifty thousand dollars for a single taxpayer, not to exceed an aggregate credit of nine million dollars for all taxpayers. The increased maximum credit amount is phased in under a three-year schedule beginning after 2018.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3035, a bill revising POLL WORKER QUALIFICATIONS to allow for a more expansive pool of eligible workers. The legislation allows someone who is registered as a voter in South Carolina to serve as a poll worker anywhere in the state, replacing more restrictive provisions that require poll workers to reside in the area where the primary or election is being held. The legislation implements recommendations from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s review of the State Election Commission.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.3127, a joint resolution establishing a temporary MOLD ABATEMENT AND REMEDIATION STUDY COMMITTEE to examine the health effects of mold in South Carolina’s public buildings, with a focus on children in public schools, and to ascertain the best methods for mold abatement and the prevention of future growth. The study committee, comprised of three Senators appointed by the President of the Senate and three House Members appointed by the Speaker of the House, is charged with making a report to the General Assembly by December 31, 2019, at which time the study committee shall dissolve.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3585, relating to INSURANCE LAW REVISIONS. The bill provides for various technical changes, updates, and clean-up provisions for the laws governing insurance and regulation by the Department of Insurance.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3587, a bill addressing INSURER CORPORATE GOVERNANCE DISCLOSURES. In keeping with the guidelines of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the legislation establishes requirements for insurers and insurance groups to submit an annual disclosure to the Department of Insurance that summarizes their corporate governance structure, policies, and practices.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.3700, a bill revising beachfront management restrictions placed on erosion control structures or devices seaward of the setback line to allow for the placement of shoreline perpendicular WINGWALLS that extend landward at a 90 degree angle from the ends of existing erosion control structures or devices that are consistent in height with the existing erosion control structures to which they are attached, subject to any special conditions imposed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3698, legislation revising permit review by the Department of Health and Environmental Control under the STATE COASTAL MANAGEMENT PLAN. The legislation provides that, for individual navigable waters permits for docks located in the eight coastal counties but outside of critical areas, a coastal zone consistency certification is deemed approved if certification review is not completed within thirty days of an administratively complete application.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3483, a bill that eliminates the sunset date of March 2021 for the provisions requiring CERTAIN COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS BE PLACED IN A CLASS 3 LANDFILL.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3644, a bill that provides for a label requirement for AMERICAN INDIAN ART UTILIZING WILD TURKEY FEATHERS and certain other wild turkey parts. The legislation provides that the artist must affix a label to the product or provide accompanying documentation with the artist’s name and the following: “American Indian Art Resale of this Product in its Unaltered Original Condition is Lawful in South Carolina”.

The House approved S.228, legislation CREATING THE TRI COUNTY TECHNICAL COLLEGE ENTERPRISE CAMPUS AUTHORITY, and enrolled the bill for ratification.

SC Budget heads to Governor’s desk

We returned this week to finalized next year’s budget (which ultimately passed 84-28 in the House and passed 30-9 in the Senate). In the coming days, Governor McMaster will get to issue his vetoes – and I look forward to seeing many of those and hope we can sustain those that are not the best use of your tax dollars.

If you ever wanted to dive into the budget, here it is. Click and “enjoy”.

Below are some highlights for the areas most often asked about by constituents.


 $22 million to fully fund Constitutional Reserve Funds, which brings the
reserve fund total to $515 million ($364 million – General Reserve; $151 –
Capital Reserve)
 Reduced the total budget by $2.4 billion by removing double-booked funds
and items in higher education that are not state funds
 $599 million in direct tax relief for South Carolinians


 $32 million to fund the General Fund employer cost of Year 2 of the multiyear
plan to bring down the multi-billion pension liability
 $56.4 million to cover 100% of the state employee health and dental
insurance increases so employees will have no additional monthly
premium cost
 Expanded to cover Well Visits as a contractual service, which will require copays but
also count towards deductibles
 Small increases to patient liability in deductible and copays


Teacher Salary Increases
• $31 million for a statewide teacher salary increase of 1%
• $7.8 million to increase the statewide minimum starting salary for a
teacher with 0 and 1 year experience from $30,000 to $32,000
Increased School Funding
• $55.8 million to increase the Base Student Cost by $60 per pupil to
• $13 million for SC Public Charter Schools student growth
• $11 million for Technical Assistance for low-performing schools
School Buses
• $12 million in recurring, non-recurring, and lottery funding for new
school buses
• With this new funding, all 1995 fire-prone buses will be off the road
by the start of the school year
School Resource Officers
• $2 million recurring for hiring certified law enforcement officers to
serve as School Resource Officers
• Funds are available for school districts that otherwise would lack the
adequate resources to hire their own SROs, with districts of the
lowest index of taxpaying ability receiving priority consideration
• Allows any retired Class 1 law enforcement officer to return to
employment as an SRO without affecting the monthly retirement
School Safety Upgrades
• $15 million in the Lottery for School Safety and Critical Facility and
Equipment Improvements
• Funds are for life safety infrastructure for school facilities including
door locks, security cameras, metal detectors, lifesaving medical
equipment and SRO equipment


Scholarships and Tuition Aid
 $11 million for Workforce Scholarships to provide grants for tuition, fees, transportation,
or textbook expenses to SC residents enrolled in a career education program at a
technical school or professional certification program
 $3.9 million to create Palmetto Promise Scholarship Pilot program that awards
scholarships to students from the Abbeville plaintiff school districts
 For the third year in a row, fully funded LIFE, HOPE and Palmetto Fellows Scholarships
through the Lottery, including the increases from the 10-point grading scale
Technical Colleges
 $4 million in recurring increases for all technical colleges
 $9.4 million for the successful ReadySC job training program, which provides customized
training for new and expanding business and industry
 $11 million for High Demand Skill Training Equipment to be distributed to all technical
Colleges and Universities
 $20 million in recurring to help bring colleges and universities closer to pre-recession
funding levels
 $50 million non-recurring for capital projects and maintenance needs at colleges around
the state


Heath and Human Services – Medicaid Budget
 $26.4 million for the state Medicaid Maintenance of Effort and annualization to
continue current level of services without expending agency reserves
 Includes Increased revenue assumptions and lower targets for managed care rates
 Continued funding for the Healthy Outcomes Proviso, serving over 14,000 highutilizers
of emergency rooms and/or inpatient services through coordination with all
Medicaid-designated hospitals, 70 primary care safety net providers, and three
behavioral health clinics state-wide
Health and Human Services – Rural Health Initiative & Telemedicine
 $3.5 million in increased funding for the Rural Health Initiative. DHHS will continue
to partner with the USC School of Medicine in the development of a long term
strategic plan for addressing medically underserved communities in the rural areas
of the state through services such as the iCARED initiative.
 Aimed at supporting and developing medical education in rural areas through rural
residency placements and infrastructure improvements
 $5 million in non-recurring through Telemedicine Proviso for continued
infrastructure build out and $1 million increase in recurring funds for Telemedicine
operations – this brings total recurring dollars for the SC Telehealth Network to
$11.5 million in combined funding through DHHS and MUSC
Health and Human Services – Autism Spectrum Disorder
 $4.8 million increase in state recurring funds for increased rates for autism therapy and
service providers ($9.4 M in matching federal funds)
 Rates for ABA line therapists will increase from $17.38 to roughly $30/hour with
increases to the supervisor rate from $58/hour to $64/hour
 Agency has updated the rate methodology to reflect cost-driven structure and avoid
blending the supervision rate with line therapists
 Rates are indexed against national standard cost of employment information, and
proposal is being distributed to providers by the end of the month
 DHHS is continuing to explore opportunities to increase capacity in the workforce, so
that children are not placed on waiting lists – 20% increase in enrolled providers since
November 2017
DHHS, DAODAS and MUSC – Opioid Abuse Prevention
 Over $11 million in increased state funding specifically aimed at addressing the Opioid
Epidemic through DHHS and DAODAS
 $5 million in state funds for the MUSC Hospital Authority Health Innovations Program,
which includes funding to expand the Emergency Department MAT pilot established in
FY 17-18 to additional hospitals
 Proviso 117.142 will use these funds to implement many of the House Opioid Abuse
Prevention Study Committee recommendations
 $4 million in non-recurring through HOP proviso 33.20 for capital improvements to the
behavioral health facilities based on need as determined by DAODAS and DHHS
Other Health Agencies
 DSS – $23 million in recurring funds to address required components in
settlement agreement and continue child care match for $8.65 million in
federal funds, $25 million in non-recurring for the continued development of
the Child Support System
 DDSN – $11.3 million to increase the department’s direct care staff starting
salaries agency wide from $11/hour to $12/hour and a 3-4% increase to direct
care wages for employees working with the department for at least 5 years,
$500,000 increase to the Greenwood Genetic Center for Autism Research,
$650,000 for in-home Autism Support services
 DMH – $6.9 million to increase funding for Supported Community Housing,
Child and Adolescent Intensive Community and Residential Services, and
enhanced School Based Services
 DHEC – $2.4 million for the EMS Performance Improvement Center and the
Credentialing Information System, Enhanced Communicable Disease
Prevention and Treatment, including funding specific to HIV/AIDS, Breast and
Cervical Cancer, and Colorectal Cancer [Read more…]