DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Election workers in Dorchester County are feverishly entering more than 13,500 mail in ballots that were rendered unreadable by voting machines due to a printing error.
County spokesperson Tiffany Norton says they will be counting the ballots throughout the night and plan to be finished before Friday at noon when the vote must be certified.
Meanwhile, the race for Dorchester District 2 School Board still hangs in the balance. Nine candidates are vying for three spots.
Louis Smith is one of the candidates who is trailing behind.
“I am not one for conspiracy theories, but it’s really strange that the same company was used throughout the 46 counties in South Carolina, and it just so happens that we have this glitch in just Dorchester County,” Smith said, acknowledging that he likely will not make it into the top three.
Despite an unlikely change in his position, he says this kind of issue should have been caught.
“With all this time that we had to plan for this election, how did this happen?” Smith said. “In my world, you should have every scenario covered and obviously they were not prepared for this scenario.”
Another candidate, James Weaver, was in fifth place Tuesday night. He is cautiously optimistic he could pick up some ground, but also acknowledges it is something of a long shot.
“It’s concerning that in 2020 we have this kind of challenge in the only county in the entire state,” Weaver said. “There needs to be more checks and balances with the process. As a voter, as a citizen of the county, we should not have this kind of challenge.”
In the past 24 hours Weaver has picked up about 1,000 votes. His overall position has not changed partially because voters can select up to three candidates. While Weaver and Smith say they are confident in the work being done by election officials, Weaver would like to see more oversight in future elections.
“I think there needs to be more investigation as to why this happened. I understand that the finger is being pointed at the vendor, however there are checks and balances along the way,” Weaver said. “In South Carolina, we should be confident in the process that we have for electing individuals across the state.”
Where the votes may matter most is in race for the final seat. Currently, Barbara Crosby is edging out Lisa Tupper by about 400 votes.
Weaver says when he checked in at the election office around 4 p.m. and workers had been able to count around 2,000 of the nearly 14,000 mail in ballots so far.