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.
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.
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
.....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.
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.
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.
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.