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Office of the Governor of South Carolina
12005 Pendleton Street
Columbia, SC 29201
The Honorable Henry McMaster, Governor of South Carolina,
It is with much regret that we, the Board of Voter Registration & Elections of Pickens County, hereby resign from our appointed positions, effective March 31, 2020.
Collectively, we feel that it has become impossible to do the job we were appointed to, because of interference from the Pickens County Delegation, Pickens County Council and the County Administrator. This interference has resulted in years of understaffing and funding for the elections office. They are currently operating with a staff of three for a county that continues to grow at a rapid pace. This has resulted in making the Elections Director, no matter who it is, stretched beyond human capacities. Through it all, Mr. Rodney Allen, as Executive Director, with twelve years experience running Pickens County elections, has never had any uncertifiable election. Not one. This past year has seen an escalation of interference by said parties.
On February 29, 2020, during the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary, State Senator Rex Rice and State Representative Davey Hiott arrived at the election office. They herded the board into a conference room even after a board member stated that we could not meet like that. Senator Rice said to call it a "discussion", he stated he would talk and we would listen. After much discussion, Sen. Rice stated either you take care of it (firing Mr. Allen) or we will, referencing the Governor's involvement would be used if needed. This is direct interference violating Section 7-5-10 of the SC Code of Election laws, as well as a violation of the SC Open Meeting Act.
All this taking place at the county building where the board was extremely busy getting ballots totaled and reported properly, thus another act of interference with the voting process. On the morning of March 6, 2020, Mr. Ken Roper, County Administrator, had county personnel remove the executive director, Rodney Allen, from his office stating the county needed that space. As of March 25, 2020, no one had been moved into this space. Mr. Roper told our Board Chair that he had the authority to do this. This left him without an office to work in, but his staff rearranged the office to give Mr. Allen desk space.
These same county employees then loaded up the election equipment and said they were moving it to a storage cage in the basement and that is what they were told to do. As of March 25, 2020, Mr. Allen nor anyone on his staff had been given a key to this storage cage, thus not allowing them to begin preparing the equipment for the June 2020 primaries. More interference with the election process. The Board of Voter Registration and Elections sees this desire for "control" of the Elections office has led to serious dysfunction in our county.
The Board of Voter Registration and Elections is trying to follow the law, written by elected officials, to ensure the Pickens County voting public and all elections are protected from this undue influence. The Board recently received a letter dated 3/2/20 from the Pickens County Legislative Delegation stating that "The delegation believes that this is the best group of individuals that has ever served on the Elections Board and we, the delegation, appreciate everything that you have done." The current Board constitutes well over 75 years of experience overseeing Pickens County elections. We cannot be complicit in a power struggle at the expense of our voting citizens and the rule of law. Sincerely, Board of Voter Registration & Elections of Pickens County
Kathleen W. Hane ________________________________, Chair
Gretchen Campbell _______________________________, Vice Chair
Geneva Robinson ________________________________, Secretary
Sheree L. Chapman _______________________________
Gavin R. Wilson __________________________________
CC: Pickens County Legislative Delegation Mr. Ken Roper, County Administrator SEC