Cindi Scoppe did a good job this morning of telling us why the Richland County elections mess is even worse than we thought. An excerpt:
JUST WHEN you thought the mess that is the Richland County Board of Elections and Voter Registration couldn’t get any worse — never a safe assumption when we’re dealing with the spawns of the Legislative State — we learn that the temporary stay that had allowed the unconstitutional board to keep operating was lifted. In December.
Which means … well, that’s a good question.
It should mean that former commissioner Sam Selph is not interim director of the agency, because the board that last week appointed Mr. Selph had no legal authority to act.
For that matter, it should mean that Howard Jackson still is the director, because surely a board that has been declared unconstitutional would not take personnel actions of such magnitude.
It should mean that we have returned to thestatus quo ante — with separate boards running separate offices of elections and voter registration, with new commissioners who have the knowledge and capability and integrity to make legal hiring decisions and run legitimate elections.
But clearly the latter has not happened, and there’s a little glitch that makes far from clear when it can happen or what must happen on the other fronts. Which should surprise no one….
Ladies and gentlemen, this is very like a complete breakdown of government, one in which functions that are fundamental to our democracy have ceased to work, and no one is clearly in a position to fix the problem. Which is what you get when you let fundamental services be provided by cockeyed legislation unconstitutionally pushed into place by that bizarre hermaphroditic creature, the county legislative delegation.
The Legislative State might have served its purpose in the days when slaves picked cotton for the wealthy plantation owners whose interests it was crafted to serve. It might have worked a century ago, when the textile magnates controlled our government and could depend on it to provide those limited services that they needed. Maybe it even served its purpose in the ’50s, when South Carolina still could pretty much ignore the rest of the world, and government didn’t do a lot more than educate white people and pave roads for the industrialists and planters.
It does not serve its purpose, or our purpose, or anybody’s purpose today.
When things go well, it gives us state agencies that waste money and provide inferior services because they have overlapping mandates and don’t work together or even talk to each other. It hamstrings governors’ ability to deliver on the agenda the voters elected them to implement. It diverts state legislators’ attention from fixing our state’s problems, as they busy themselves delivering patronage and fixate on parochial matters that should be handled by local governments.
And when things don’t go well …. Well, then it gives us botched elections and identity theft on a massive scale and officials who lack the legal authority to make things right.
It’s time for a change.
That piece ran in 2012. Nothing has changed.Which is no surprise to those of us who’ve been writing about these problems for more than two decades.