- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Howard Jackson, fired from his job as Richland County elections director after only eight months, said Tuesday the elections board unlawfully meddled in his job and refused to let him make staff changes.

During an hour-long news conference, Jackson also said he will turn over documents about the operations of the Richland County Elections & Voter Registration Office to the State Law Enforcement Division on Wednesday.

He met with reporters the day after he was fired by the elections board on a 4-1 vote.

Jackson said the documents he will give SLED agents include hundreds of absentee ballots that went uncounted in last November’s elections. He also said he is prepared to answer questions under oath about the operations of the elections office.

Jackson, the former director of Orangeburg County’s elections office, was hired last year after widespread problems in Richland County during the 2012 general election. During that election, there were too few voting machines at many precincts in the county and some voters waited in line up to seven hours to cast their ballots.

Previous elections director Lillian McBride was then demoted.

Then last fall, there were more problems when it was revealed that more than 1,100 votes went uncounted in an election that included a mayoral race and a vote on whether to increase the taxes to provide money for the Richland County library system.

During his eight months on the job “the bottom line is it came down to a power struggle” with the elections board, Jackson said.

“I was told to stand down” when trying to make staff changes, he said.

The elections board meets Wednesday to discuss what to do next, including whether to hire an interim director, board member Samuel Selph told The State newspaper.

Jackson earned $78,000 a year. His last day on the job will be Friday.

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