Mia Butler Garrick is on a one-woman campaign to get respect for the voters of her South Carolina community.
Garrick, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, said she was horrified and devastated by the problems people in her district encountered on Election Day. And she is determined to get answers and lay responsibility at the feet of elections officials.
In a letter to her constituents as well as to elections officials in her county, Garrick tells of a series of Election Day nightmares, with voting machines that failed to work, voters who waited as long as six hours to cast ballots in cold weather and poll workers who responded to complaints with rude and “flippant” responses.
“There were hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who were disenfranchised,” said Garrick in an interview with BET.com. “I don’t think any in their wildest imagination expected the county to be as unprepared as they were.”
She continued: “I wanted to go on record that I was clear about where I stand. There were so many disenfranchised voters in my area. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
But Garrick didn’t just complain about the problems at the polls. She has asked the county’s elections officials to apologize to the voters and to look into ways to ensure that the troubles at the polls are never repeated. She wrote elections officials demanding an apology and an explanation.
In her letter, she requested that elected officials join her in calling for the county’s election officials to “apologize formally, unequivocally and publicly to all Richland County voters.” In addition, she asked that the elections officers “acknowledge and accept responsibility for appointing the director of the Richland County Election Commission and hold her accountable for the procedural, logistical and preparatory failures that caused Tuesday’s debacle.”
Also, she asked that elections officials “take swift and immediate action to restore confidence and integrity to the process for all voters.”
She said she considers it important that the officials with authority over elections are placed under continued scrutiny.
“Not holding the Richland County elections director, commissioners and ourselves accountable for this debacle is not a viable option,” Garrick said. “The public has every right to demand transparency and accountability. And we have an undeniable responsibility to deliver.”
So far, Garrick said, she has received an apology from one of the elections commissioners, which she said was a step in the in the right direction. Equally gratifying, she said, she has received a huge amount of support from voters in her district, which is 52 percent Black.
“The public is overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “I’m getting a lot of emails and calls from people telling me how grateful they are about my willingness to speak up and stand up. And, to me, that means everything.”
BET National News - Keep up to date with breaking news stories from around the nation, including headlines from the hip hop and entertainment world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
(Photo: South Carolina State House Government)