Judge orders recount of all Richland Co. votes - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Court-ordered recount of all Richland Co. ballots to start Friday

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At 8:00 Thursday night, four SLED agents packed up ten heavy duty boxes filled with Richland County ballots.

They were court ordered to remove flash cards, personal electronic ballots and paper ballots from the Richland County Election Commission after the Democratic Party claimed poor execution and management on Election Day.

A judge ordered all ballots in all races in Richland County to be recounted in the wake of Tuesday's election.

Circuit Judge Casey Manning said in a court order that the State Election Commission will be in charge of the recount along with the State Law Enforcement Division instead of the Richland County Election Commission.

The judge added that the county Election Commission can observe the recount, but cannot take any part in the process.

Manning said the two major political parties in the state and the press can appoint one representative apiece to observe the recount.

Manning said paper ballots from the House District 75 race between Joe McCulloch and Kirkman Finlay will be recounted by hand. Earlier in the day, Manning ordered a seizure of ballots in that race until a hearing could be held on alleged voting irregularities in Richland County.

When asked what was the cause of voting problems Tuesday, Richland County Election Commission Chairman Liz Crum told WIS, "At this point we do not know. I say 'we' meaning the RCEC."

"But the first thing I'd like to do is to apologize to voters," said Crum. "I want to apologize to the poll workers. I want to apologize to people who tried to get people to the polls and let them know we will find out why there weren't enough machines out and do our best to ensure this doesn't happen in the future."

Voters waited in line for as long as five or six hours waiting to cast their vote.

Crum said the county has 930 voting machines. Only 727 were sent out to precincts on Election Day. Two dozen were held at the Commission for absentee voters but 70 were sent out over the course of the day to supplement and replace broken machines.

Crum says the county election commission staff will be questioned about why the remaining 100 machines were not delivered.

"That's a question the election commission has to find out," said Crum. "We do not know but we will find out and let everybody know."

Crum encouraged voters to call their elected officials about their concerns and frustrations and to have them change the process including authorizing new machines and early voting. But right now, Crum said Richland County is obeying the law and staying out of the recount process and letting the State take over.

"Our primary goal right now is to ensure that we have an election - that we count all the votes, that everybody knows their vote cast got counted and they can continue to have belief and integrity in the process," said Crum.

The certification process that was supposed to start Friday has been suspended.  The Richland County Election Commission hopes to certify those results on Monday with the State Election Commission certifying them on Wednesday of next week.

There will also be an emergency hearing on Tuesday to determine if at any time the law was broken during the voting process

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