Tue, 25 Feb 2014 19:14:29 GMT — COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Less than 24 hours after being fired, a former Richland County Elections Director says he was given unlawful and unethical orders by board members. Howard Jackson was voted out Monday 4-1 by the Richland Elections Commission Board. Jackson says he is meeting with the State Law Enforcement Division Wednesday to hand over evidence and key documents. Jackson wouldn't tell reporters what the documents show but did say " When you obstruct an election, that's criminal" Jackson says since taking office, there has been a power struggle with the board and ultimately led to his termination. Jackson said his decision to fire former deputy director Gary Baum met resistance from board members and he was even told it would be a " bad political move", because Baum is the brother-in-law of state Senator Joel Lourie. The former Elections Director said on several occasions he tried to report problems with the deputy director and he was told to stand down. Jackson even pointing to an instance where he says the deputy director would unplug voting machines and the machines would power down during elections. "This county deserves to have an experienced deputy director of elections not someone off the street," adds Jackson. While searching for Baum's replacement, Jackson said one board member even questioned the race of a potential candidate. Jackson says the board didn't want him to touch anyone. "For me to be told to stand down because of his race, it was unlawful," said Jackson. Jackson said board members regularly threatened his job and it wasn't a good working relationship. State Senator Joel Lourie told WACH Fox that he never inquired about his brother in-laws job. "Gary Baum worked for the state election commission for 21 years and left to become the deputy director for the Richland County Election Commission im July of 2012 -October of 2013. During this time I've had no conversation with the current director, former director or any member of the board regarding his job performance. Any suggestion to the contrary is completely false," said Lourie
Lourie adds since the 2012 election debacle he has joined fellow Sen. John Courson on a bill that would completely restructure the Richland County Election office. Howard Jackson was hired last year after problems in the 2012 general election, where there were too few voting machines placed at polling locations and some people waited as long as seven hours to vote. But more problems developed in Columbia and Richland County voting last November, when officials discovered more than 11-hundred votes had not been counted.
Jackson had been the director of elections in Orangeburg County before he was hired by Richland County.