Making Democracy Work

Democracy is not a spectator sport!

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Pickens County Elections Commission Resigns

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Office of the Governor of South Carolina

12005 Pendleton Street

Columbia, SC 29201

The Honorable Henry McMaster, Governor of South Carolina,

It is with much regret that we, the Board of Voter Registration & Elections of Pickens County, hereby resign from our appointed positions, effective March 31, 2020. Collectively, we feel that it has become impossible to do the job we were appointed to, because of interference from the Pickens County Delegation, Pickens County Council and the County Administrator. This interference has resulted in years of understaffing and funding for the elections office. They are currently operating with a staff of three for a county that continues to grow at a rapid pace. This has resulted in making the Elections Director, no matter who it is, stretched beyond human capacities. Through it all, Mr. Rodney Allen, as Executive Director, with twelve years experience running Pickens County elections, has never had any uncertifiable election. Not one.

This past year has seen an escalation of interference by said parties. On

February 29, 2020, during the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary, State Senator Rex Rice and State Representative Davey Hiott arrived at the election office. They herded the board into a conference room even after a board member stated that we could not meet like that. Senator Rice said to call it a "discussion", he stated he would talk and we would listen. After much discussion, Sen. Rice stated either you take care of it (firing Mr. Allen) or we will, referencing the Governor's involvement would be used if needed. This is direct interference violating Section 7-5-10 of the SC Code of Election laws, as well as a violation of the SC Open Meeting Act. All this taking place at the county building where the board was extremely busy getting ballots totaled and reported properly, thus another act of interference with the voting process.

On the morning of March 6, 2020, Mr. Ken Roper, County Administrator, had county personnel remove the executive director, Rodney Allen, from his office stating the county needed that space. As of March 25, 2020, no one had been moved into this space. Mr. Roper told our Board Chair that he had the authority to do this. This left him without an office to work in, but his staff rearranged the office to give Mr. Allen desk space. These same county employees then loaded up the election equipment and said they were moving it to a storage cage in the basement and that is what they were told to do. As of March 25, 2020, Mr. Allen nor anyone on his staff had been given a key to this storage cage, thus not allowing them to begin preparing the equipment for the June 2020 primaries. More interference with the election process.

The Board of Voter Registration and Elections sees this desire for "control" of the Elections office has led to serious dysfunction in our county. The Board of Voter Registration and Elections is trying to follow the law, written by elected officials, to ensure the Pickens County voting public and all elections are protected from this undue influence. The Board recently received a letter dated 3/2/20 from the Pickens County Legislative Delegation stating that "The delegation believes that this is the best group of individuals that has ever served on the Elections Board and we, the delegation, appreciate everything that you have done."

The current Board constitutes well over 75 years of experience overseeing Pickens County elections. We cannot be complicit in a power struggle at the expense of our voting citizens and the rule of law.

Sincerely,

Board of Voter Registration & Elections of Pickens County

Kathleen W. Hane ________________________________, Chair

Gretchen Campbell _______________________________, Vice Chair

Geneva Robinson ________________________________, Secretary

Sheree L. Chapman _______________________________

Gavin R. Wilson __________________________________

CC: Pickens County Legislative Delegation

Mr. Ken Roper, County Administrator

SEC

NEWS RELEASE MARCH 5, 2020

.Important Issues Facing Americans
Actions of the League of Women Voters

Making Democracy Work is the mission of the League of Women Voters of the Clemson Area (LWVCA). League members met at OLLI in Clemson February 29 to consider changes to its national and local priorities and policy positions for 2020-2022 that would further the organization's mission. These proposed changes will be voted on this spring at the National Convention of the League of Women Voters US (LWVUS) and the Annual Meeting of our Clemson Area League.

The first policy position recommended for adoption at the LWVUS convention is to "Support electoral systems at each level of government that encourage participation, are verifiable and auditable and enhance representation for all voters." This proposal supports electoral methods that encourage those with minority opinions to participate, including under-represented communities and that require the winner to receive the majority of votes for executive and single-seat offices.

Local League members also endorsed an addition to the Arms Control section of International Relations relating to cyberwar which will be considered at the National Convention. After the current phrase "the US government shall give the highest level of importance to arms control efforts that ..." the following be added:
.....provide international agreement on limits to the use of cyber weapons to attack critical infrastructure (including electrical grids, water supplies and other essential services).
Along with this addition, Clemson Area members agreed that the LWVUS Convention be asked to approve a study of cyber weapons and cyberwar, including artificial intelligence, to better educate League members and the public on this poorly understood reality and threat.

Other priorities approved for consideration at the National Convention include greater LWVUS action on environmental issues and universal health care.

All policy positions approved at the National Convention are automatically accepted as positions of state and local Leagues. State and local Leagues decide the extent to which they work on issues, with guidance from the National League.

Clemson Area members also recommended a policy relating to the size of the Pickens County Council for acceptance at its May Annual Meeting. It states that Council membership be increased to seven members, elected from the same single-member districts as School Board members. Having fewer ballot types results in an election that is easier to administer. Simplification of the election process should save election costs.

The League of Women Voters promotes political responsibility through informed and active participation in government. It does not support or oppose any political party or candidate. Its strength is in its diversity, welcoming all people regardless of gender, race or creed. .

General Meeting March 24 -- will be rscheduled

Hunger and Food Insecurity in Pickens County: 2019
Abstract

Ensuring the availability of healthy, affordable food is an essential component of a community's quality of life. While food security rate>>s have improved since the 2008 recession, food insecurity remains a concern among certain subpopulations and in some areas of the country.

To better understand the extent and character of food insecurity and hunger in Pickens County, SC, the research team conducted a mixed-method study of these issues in Summer 2019. The study was commissioned by the United Way of Pickens County as a follow-up to an earlier study conducted in 2011. This study aimed to:

1) Assess state of food insecurity in Pickens County in 2019 and the community assets available to address the issue; 2) Document, through maps and a transportation study, the extent of the needs and gaps in services; and 3) Recommend steps for harnessing community assets to address the needs individuals facing hunger and food insecurity.

The research team's presentation will focus on the initial study results, focusing on the survey results and a model for addressing the broaders systemic causes of hunger and food insecurity in the county and beyond.

Biographical Sketches

Catherine Mobley/ is a Professor of Sociology at Clemson University. She has extensive experience in community-based research and program evaluation, addressing a variety of issues, including, STEM education, environmental sustainability, and hunger and food insecurity. She has been involved in several community organizations, including serving on the boards of the LWVCA, the United Way of Pickens County, and the Upstate Homeless Coalition.

Cassius Hossfeld is an MS degree candidate in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice at Clemson University. He holds a BA degree with Honors in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Hossfeld has experience with diverse qualitative and quantitative research methods, including surveys, in-depth interviews and focus groups. He will apply these skills to a broader study of food access, to be conducted in Summer 2020.

Michelle Eichinger is a PhD candidate in Planning, Design and Built Environment at Clemson University. She has over 15 years of experience in public health programs development and management; and policy analysis related to chronic disease prevention and health promotion, with a focus on equity, food security, and active living in the built environment.

Leslie Hossfeld is the Dean of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences at Clemson University. As a rural sociologist, she focuses on multi-disciplinary strategies and collaborative partnerships to understand and alleviate persistent poverty in the Southeast, particularly around local food systems development, food access and food insecurity. She works to link U.S. local food systems research and initiatives to nutrition, malnutrition (obesity), and health outcomes and health disparities to develop policy coherence linking health and agriculture policy.

 


The public is invited. See the calendar for more information.

Vote411 -- the online candidate forums

This November we hope to make our online candidate forums available to all the municipalities that are holding elections. In Pickens County, Central, Easley, Liberty, Norris, Pickens and Six Mile are holding elections. In Anderson County, Belton, Honea Path, Iva, Pelzer, Pendleton and West Pelzer are holding elections. In Oconee County, Salem, Wahalla, Wesrminster and West Union are holding elections.

Alice Flower (Anderson County), Kathy Bargeron (Oconee County) and Eleanor Hare (Pickens County) are collecting candidate information and entering it in the computer. Invitations to participate are being sent to candidates by email. Letters will be mailed to those who do not reply.

We need volunteers in two areas: (1) to phone candidates who do not reply and (2) to take Vote411 flyers and business cards to each council having an election.

This outreach, to the edges of our three counties, is a huge task, but it is a major benefit to voters. If we can reach all these elections, candidate participation in future candidate forums should increase. Contact any of the county co-ordinators if you can help.

How to keep your information confidential

CONTACT LEAGUE OFFICERS

USE "CONTACT US" LINK ON LEFT.


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