By Kate Franch
Chair, Greenville County Democratic Party
Is my vote safe? That’s one of the critical questions being asked today. Not only are we in constant discussion about whether Democratic candidates will garner the votes needed to bring change to the State House and Congress, we are also becoming acutely aware of the vulnerability of the voting system in South Carolina. In a national study, the Center for American Progress evaluated the security of election management and equipment in all 50 states. It gave South Carolina a D.
Our voting machines are old and have an extremely high risk of failure and of being hacked. In addition, without the capacity to generate a paper trail there is no backup of the votes we cast electronically. A July report from the Committee on House Administration determined that “It is nearly impossible to determine if paperless voting machines have been hacked and if vote tallies have been altered.” In other words, the audit system for protecting and validating the very instrument that enables, and is supposed to ensure, democracy “by the people” is severely impaired.
South Carolina received $6 million from a recent congressional allocation earmarked for upgrading voting systems across the nation. Our state legislature allocated $4 million to refresh the current system in advance of the November election and a recurring $4 million to apply toward eventual replacement. The price tag for replacing the system, however, is estimated to be close to $54 million – yet another way in which South Carolina lags far behind almost every other state.
What can we do? As always, we must let our elected representatives know that upgrading our system is of the highest priority. But the midterm election takes place in three months and changes won’t be in place by then. Consider helping to protect the vote in one of these ways:
Be a Greenville County poll worker with direct impact at the actual “point of contact”. Conway Belangia, director of voter registration and elections, wants to hire 500 additional poll workers for November 6 to improve efficiency and security. Any registered voter from Greenville, Anderson, Laurens, Pickens, or Spartanburg County may apply and a mandatory 3-hour training is required for this paid position. Find more information here: greenvillecounty.org/VoterRegistration/pdf/application_pollworker.pdf. High school students may also apply to work the polls. A paid position that requires training, they must be able and willing to work the entire 6 am to 8 pm day. Information and the application can be found here: greenvillecounty.org/VoterRegistration/pdf/student_pollworker.pdf
Be a GCDP poll watcher. Be part of the party’s effort to protect the voting process, monitor activity, and maximize Democratic voter turnout at a local precinct polling site on Election Day. Extensive training is provided to receive the credential required to represent the GCDP. Contact Headquarters for more information and to sign up. With 151 precincts to cover, we need you.
Work on a campaign to elect Democrats to office. Ultimately the problem must be addressed through the legislative process, so we must put more Democrats in office to champion this cause. The program for the GCDP’s August monthly breakfast meeting is a candidate volunteer fair where you can sign up to volunteer for one of our Greenville County candidates. Drop by Upstate Circle of Friends (29 Ridgeway Drive, 29605) on Saturday, August 25, between 8:30 and 11:00 am for a bite to eat and to learn about the great folks running to address the real issues facing our state and country. Be an active part of creating the change we need and seek.
The Blue Wave is ours to make . . . join the GCDP on the trail,