Board of Elections Hears of Party Info Issues

Published 3:39 pm Friday, March 8, 2024

The Board of Elections met March 6th at 4:30 p.m. in the Board of Commissioners meeting room. Chair of the Board of Elections, Dr. Shirley Latimore, presented new Elections Supervisor LaSandra Patterson her certificate of certification. “Board members, I want you to know, that Miss LaSandra Patterson is a certified supervisor of Sumter County Elections and Voter Registration. She did it in less than two weeks.” The deadline for certification for the position is six months. Latimore thanked her, saying “she hit the floor running.”

Afterward Patterson gave supervisor’s updates, giving numbers on advanced voters. “As of today, advanced voting: we’ve had 773 people to vote out at the fairgrounds. We have registered voters in Sumter County: 19,086. We mailed out 162 absentee applications: So far we have 73 returned.”

Board member Randy Howard talked about the need to communicate with the public about qualifying fees for different elected offices. He also mentioned the need to inform the public on those running. “A lot of people don’t realize we’ve got two representatives running and we’ve got a congressman running. We’ve got other officers running that are non-partisan.” Howard mentioned that a candidate was running for probate judge as well. He stressed the importance of informing citizens on who is running as well as candidates on the qualifying process. “Every voter should know who is running.”

Dr. Shirley Latimore concurred. She expressed issues with getting information from the parties in a timely manner. “We can’t create anything they don’t give us. When we get information, we put it out.”

The Board also discussed preparations for implementing Zoom, which will allow citizens to watch the Board of Elections meetings virtually.
Board member Carson Walker spoke during Board member’s remarks. He mentioned visiting the poll workers and noticing that there was no heat. “The poll workers had no heat, were wearing gloves. To me, it appeared that the employees were having bad morale because of this situation.” Walker mentioned bringing them a heater and hand warmers and expressed appreciation that they had switched to using the warmer section of the building.

When asked about communication between the Parties and the Board, Wesley Larkin, Vice Chair of the Republican Party, responded:
“The Sumter County GOP emailed the Board info regarding the qualifying period nearly a month ago. In years past, the Board has always published the qualifying information in the paper. It is my understanding they did not do so this year.”

The republican candidates held their qualifications via appointment with the chairman. The Sumter County Democratic Committee held their qualifications at the Chamber of Commerce meeting Room at Rees Park. Chair of the Committee, Blue Argo, explained the process by which the Secretary of State sent the necessary documents for qualifications for various positions. A variety of documents from affidavits, disclosures, and others were spread out on the table. One volunteer, Brandon Stokes, commented on the diversity of documents. “The sheer amount of statutes and laws that would populate this amount of paperwork to run for public office is ridiculous.” Argo expressed worries concerning the complexity, citing historical examples of voter suppression. When asked why they didn’t have a lawyer to look over the matter, Argo stated it was a matter of availability. “We can always use volunteers.”

Argo also expressed worries about how many candidates waited until the Friday noon deadline to qualify. Any issues with paperwork, such as a lack of notarization or missing information, could result in a rejection by the Board of Elections.