Did voter fraud happen in Aiken County?

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. -- KT Ruthven watched the polls for the Republican Party in Aiken County on Election Day. What he saw and heard still shocks and frustrates him.

"There has been an enormous amount of frustration. We've had many reports of voter fraud, people voting two to three times, multiple people in one booth instructing them how to vote, even poll workers telling people how they should vote," Ruthven said.

News 12 asked him how many cases of alleged voter fraud his office has been tipped off about.

"We've heard about numerous ones," he said.

On top of all that, questions remain after a ballot mix-up in North Augusta. Some people who live in North Augusta city limits didn't get to vote in the election for Sunday alcohol sales.

"It's not anything that's been done intentionally. We're human, and we make mistakes," said Cynthia Holland, executive director of Aiken County Registration and Elections.

However, Rep. Roland Smith, who has ultimate control over the elections office in Aiken, says the mistakes are adding up.

"The number is pretty substantial," he said, adding that most of his usually quiet Election Day was spent answering phone call after phone call and filing complaints.

He says complaints came from poll workers and managers, voters and party operatives, too. He says voter fraud during Tuesday's election is a possibility, but he believes the outcomes of local races weren't ultimately affected. However, he does say the elections office was unprepared for the incredible turnout.

"The voting machines in some of the precincts -- the batteries had not been charged, and they were not able to start those machines up," Smith said.

He says that meant some precincts only had one or two machines functional for hundreds of voters. Smith says wait times at one precinct in Graniteville were around two hours.

News 12 asked him point blank if the leadership of the Aiken County Registration and Elections Office needs to be changed.

"Well, obviously, the delegation will deal with that particular issue, and there have been complaints to that extent," he said.

Smith says Aiken County's legislative delegation, of which he's the chairman, will meet Monday night with Holland to go over all voting complaints and attempt to advise solutions for the future.

Holland says she's heard no problems concerning fraud during Election Day.

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