Richland County Explains Ballot Troubles

7:41 PM, Nov 14, 2012   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Some votes cast in the November sixth election in Richland County were either counted incorrectly, or not at all.

"If they did not read properly, they were not tallied, or if they did read improperly they were either not tallied, or they scanned the wrong bubble for the wrong name," said Liz Crum, Chair of the Richland County Election Commission.

Garry Baum with the Richland County Elections and Voter Registration Office, says the issues first came to light the day after the election as they tried to count absentee ballots.  Since then the county has reached out to various vendors to troubleshoot and solve the problem.

Crum say a formatting issue with the ballots, caused by human error, is behind the problem.

Some paper ballots generated by a different, non-commercial printer, were not formatted in a way that allowed them to be read correctly by scanning machines.

She could not say how many ballot were impacted by the issue, who received them, or what precincts were involved.  She say that it was more than one area.

In order to fix the problem, the ballots will have to be manually transferred to ones with the proper formatting.  Crum says they will do that in pairs to ensure the integrity of votes.

"The way we do it is we make sure that there are two people at each point watching and marking that we have a commissioner and someone else, so that you have a commissioner and somebody else watching, verifying the transfer yes, that's not done one-on-one," said Crum.

When asked who may have been responsible for the formatting error, Crum said they're focused on completing the election process.

"We have all of the voting data and ballots, it has not been lost. It is a matter of making sure they are counted correctly," said Crum. "Our goal has been to get finished with the election, to get the ballot counted accurately and certified, and then we will go back and find out everything else. We have decided and I think the public would agree with us that our first job is to complete the election."

After several hours of testing the machines, Richland County once again continued their process of counting ballots just after 5 p.m on Wednesday.

Tuesday the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered SLED to return the ballots to Richland County to finish their counting.

This came after various documents filed with the court from the state Democratic and Republican parties.

The Supreme Court has ordered Richland Count to turn over its election results to the state by noon on Friday, so the state can certify results.





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