South Carolina Voters Allege Their Votes Got Changed, Elections Director Cites Old Machines As Problem

The head of elections in Richland County, South Carolina, says that the age of voting machines is the primary problem.

A man sits at, and touches, the screen of a voting machine..
Lisa F. Young / Shutterstock

The head of elections in Richland County, South Carolina, says that the age of voting machines is the primary problem.

Stories of people voting all across America are making their way to social media, mostly positive reports of people displaying their “I Voted” stickers. Yet some stories are not so positive, and detail how many voters are facing obstacles to making their voices heard.

Voters in a predominantly Democratic area of Columbia, South Carolina, alleged Tuesday morning that some of their votes did not match up with who they actually wanted to select.

Citizens in at least a few wards in the capital city said that they had selected one candidate on the machine ballot, only to reach the confirmation page — where they discovered that their choice was switched to their preferred candidate’s opponent, according to reporting from the Hill. One voter even explained to news reporters that she made several attempts to switch her vote back, only to again and again return to the confirmation screen and find that her choice had been recorded incorrectly.

Richland County Elections Director Rokey Suleman blamed the technical problems on a calibration issue, explaining that sometimes the machines have to be recalibrated to match individual voter’s preferences every few hours or so. This is typically done before peak voting times, he said.

This is not the only time that Richland County has had problems with voting. In 2012, before Suleman was hired, a lack of voter machines and exceedingly long lines plagued voters in that year’s elections. Said election included a controversial referendum to raise the county’s transportation sales tax, according to reporting from the State.

Other problems abounded in Richland County, Suleman said, according to reporting from WLTX.com. These included issues with flashcards, cords, and outlets for the machines — some of which weren’t working in certain areas.

Calibration could be a problem due to the age of the machines, the elections director added.

“If the calibration slips, you can touch it but the screen will select either above or below because of the calibration issue,” Suleman said, per separate reporting from the State. “The machines are just old, and we’re starting to see more and more issues with screen calibrations not being able to hold.”


Have you voted yet? If you have, great! If you haven’t, and you experience voting problems at your polling location, be ready to take action. Call the number 866-OUR-VOTE. You can also text the words “OUR VOTE” to number 97779 to get in touch with someone who can help ensure your vote counts on Election Day.