Four new election board members sworn into office

By Greg Oliver

Courtesy The Journal

PICKENS — Four new members of the Pickens County Board of Voter Registrations and Elections have formally been sworn in.

Lillian Boatwright of Clemson, Robert Rauton Jr. of Six Mile, Richard Reece of Pickens and James Liddle of Easley will be tasked with finding a new director and preparing for the June 9 primaries that will be unlike any ever seen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But acting Pickens County administrator Ken Roper isn’t concerned.

“The board is already hard at work,” he said. “I had the pleasure of meeting with them and showing them around the election office, tabulation room and election machine storage areas. I’m impressed with their sense of urgency and dedication to the election process.”

Roper added the board met last week to discuss applications for the director position.

Longtime director Rodney Allen submitted his resignation effective March 31, followed by the remaining five members of the board. Two other longtime board members submitted their resignations in February and mid-March.

Boatwright said she has worked to become active locally and make a positive impact. She serves on the Clemson Board of Zoning Appeals and is a member of the Pickens County Beautification Committee, as well as her company’s charitable council.

“This seemed like a wonderful opportunity for me to serve more people and make a bigger impact countywide and statewide,” Boatwright said.

A Daniel High School, Tri-County Technical College and Clemson University graduate, Boatwright has lived in Clemson for more than 12 years and has a child attending Clemson Elementary School. She has not worked in elections formally, but has been active in voting advocacy and campaigns for a number of years.

Boatwright said the committee has reviewed applications for the director’s position.

“We hope to have the role filled and the director active in as little time as possible,” she said. “We have been lucky to have a very sharp interim staff step in as soon as they were needed, but we are ready to have permanent positions filled.”

Liddle, who has lived in Easley for 24 years, said he agreed to serve when asked by a friend. This also marks his first experience working with elections.

“There has been some significant turnover in the registration and elections office that makes the board’s job even more challenging right now,” Liddle said. “Thankfully, we’ve had some capable people step up, and I believe we will have a successful primary and November election in large part because of them.”

Boatwright and Liddle said the COVID-19 pandemic also presents a major challenge since state legislators have said the primaries are still planned to take place as scheduled.

“Health safety was on the top of our list of concerns immediately after being sworn in,” Boatwright said. “We agreed as a board to make sure Pickens County knows their vote is as important as ever and that we will do everything we can to assist in keeping everybody safe.”

Liddle said the state of emergency has made it more challenging for the new board.

“It makes it more difficult to interact with people and ask questions, and I anticipate there will be some longtime poll workers that won’t want to work this year,” he said.