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      Election leaders:No decision on new Executive Director

      COLUMBIA, SC (WACH)--Six months after November's election was plagued by long lines, broken machines, and subsequent lawsuits, Richland County Election officials are still trying to clean up the mess.

      But after meeting for two hours Wednesday afternoon, a decision to hire a new Executive Director will have to wait a little longer.

      After narrowing down the candidates from 17 to three, the board is opting to open the search again. Acting Chairman Allen Dowdy said two of the three candidates withdrew due to personal reasons; and they did not want to hire remaining choice Howard Jackson; the current Orangeburg County Elections Director, by default.

      "We are going to do our due diligence. And we are going to do what is right to continue our search process," Dowdy said.

      Jackson was investigated by State Law Enforcement Division. He was accused of violating election laws, but nothing came of the case. However, Jackson did not disclose the information during his interview.

      Richland County voter Peter Kennedy has attended every meeting since last November's election, when hundreds of voting machines did not work. That led to long lines and many votes that were not cast.

      "When you are looking for CEO's in corporations, you do not have a very small pool," Kennedy said. "I would hope that from a citizen standpoint, they open the posting back up again to take more candidates in so we make sure we have the proper person there."

      Former Director Lillian McBride resigned last January in the wake of the flawed election, but still has a job with the county. She now oversees voter registration and absentee services.

      "To maintain the trust of the public, customers, whomever, you usually clean the executive suite out and you start over with new people," Kennedy said.

      The board will have another meeting in the near future to possibly announce a new Executive Director.