Elections chief will step down


Marilyn Bowers has resigned as director of the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, but will remain on the job until after the Nov. 2 general election.

Bowers said Wednesday that her decision was driven by a new business opportunity in Easley, where her family has continued to live even after she took the job here in 2005.

"I'm very passionate about the election process. I'm really going to miss it," she said.

Her husband's ambulance business recently branched out to provide transportation to adult day care centers, and Bowers said she currently is overseeing that new business, as well as the county's election preparations.

Bowers had tendered her resignation in 2008, shortly after she became eligible under the state retirement system, but the board convinced her to change her mind.

Her salary of approximately $91,000 puts her in the top 20 percent of county employees.

Board Chairman Dan Martin said she will be missed.

"Marilyn is one of the best election officials in South Carolina and probably in this country," he said. "It was with hesitation that we accepted her resignation, but we understood that for personal reasons it was in her best interest."

Martin said Bowers told him of her decision in August, and she announced it to the board, the elections staff and elected officials recently.

Bowers ran Pickens County's elections and voter registration office for 20 years before taking the Charleston County job in 2005.

Her husband continued to run the family business, Bowers Emergency Services, in Easley, and Bowers lived in the Charleston area during the week and went back to Easley most weekends.

She currently is overseeing Bowers Signature Services, which landed a contract this summer and since has bought eight buses and hired 21 employees to deliver senior and disabled residents to Upstate day care centers.

The county is expected to begin advertising for her replacement soon.

Next year is a relatively quiet political year, except for municipal elections in Charleston, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant.

Bowers, a former head of the S.C. Association of Registration & Election Officials, has been credited with helping stabilize a county agency that had faced past criticism for tardy results, long lines at the polls and other problems.

However, a record turnout in 2008 did produce a deluge of paper ballots, and a computer glitch that delayed unofficial results.

Martin said he and Bowers agreed to announce her resignation before Nov. 2.

"Just in case something went wrong in the November election, we didn't want the public to think it was because of that," he said.

Bowers said she was up by 5 a.m. Wednesday ensuring that her Upstate company's buses were on the road, then drove down to Charleston later in the morning to start work here.