Richland Co. to resume vote count Wednesday - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Richland Co. to resume vote count Wednesday

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

It appears the legal wrangling over Richland County's votes is close to being resolved and a certified election is just a few days away.

The South Carolina Supreme Court issued an order late Tuesday afternoon for SLED agents to return Richland County's confiscated ballots, machines and memory cards to the county's election office by 5:00 p.m.

The court said in an order issued Tuesday afternoon that county officials have until noon Friday to canvass the votes and give the results to state authorities, who will certify them that day.

County elections officials will begin the process of counting ballots under the close supervision of state elections officials on Wednesday.

The high court vacated a circuit judge's ruling ordering that all votes in Richland County be recounted after an Election Day disaster that included hours-long voting lines and broken machines. State Democrats had wanted votes recounted but dropped that request earlier Tuesday.

South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian issued a statement after the opinion was released.

"We are encouraged and gratified that the Supreme Court granted the Election Commission's motion which the Democratic Party joined in to return the ballots to the county so they could be counted and certified by this Friday," wrote Harpootlian.

"We believe that Richland County is now in a position to handle a count of the ballots in a manner which will inspire confidence in the integrity of the process."

The justices did note that their order wouldn't prevent county commissioners from ordering a recount if they determined one was required.

Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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