South Carolina elections director resigns ahead of schedule

October 5, 2021 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The executive director of the South Carolina Election Commission has left her position several months earlier than planned, with the agency saying she’s taking a new job at a nonprofit that provides cybersecurity resources to election-related entities.

Marci Andino had planned to step away from her role Dec. 31 but left office on Friday to take over as director of the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center, part of the nonprofit Center for Internet Security, commission spokesman Chris Whitmire told The State newspaper.

Until a permanent replacement is found, Voter Services Director Howard Knabb is taking over the helm in an interim role, Whitmire said.

Leading the agency since 2003, Andino implemented a new statewide voter registration system, South Carolina’s new voter ID law and candidate filing process.

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Her departure follows tension with state Republican leaders in the runup to the 2020 election. She recommended stricter safety measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including expanding absentee voting.

“I have dedicated most of my life’s work to ensuring my fellow South Carolinians had the opportunity to vote in fair and impartial elections,” Andino wrote in a resignation letter that surfaced earlier this year. “As I near the fulfillment of the duties of my current post, I stand proud of our accomplishments. And as I plan for future opportunities, I will always remain steadfast in my dedication to the preservation of our democracy.”

One of Andino’s suggestions was challenged in court and made it all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court: the removal of a witness signature requirement for absentee ballots. But the court ruled unanimously that the rule should stay.

Andino also faced backlash when serving on an advisory board for Election Systems and Software, the country’s largest voting equipment company. News outlets reported that the vendor covered nearly $20,000 in expenses for Andino over a decade before the company won a contract to implement a new voting system in South Carolina.

She said she cleared her role on the board with the state ethics office and quit the position before bidding for a new voting system.