Counting of Paper Ballots Complete in Richland County

9:34 PM, Nov 15, 2012   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The Richland County Election Commission has completed their counting of remaining absentee ballots in Richland County.

The group finished the hand count of all paper ballots around 7 p.m. Thursday. The final tabulation came around 8:30 p.m.

The result? No change in the outcomes of races, although the final numbers did change by a few votes. For example, in House District 75, numbers Wednesday showed Kirkman Finlay with 7,207 votes and Joe McCulloch with 6,891. On Thursday, those statistics were Finlay 7,218 and McCulloch 6,906.

This unofficial tabulation appears to confirm victories for the several races, including the Richland County Penny Tax, Finlay in House 75, and Julie Dixon's upset of incumbent Val Hutchinson in Richland County Council District 9.

All that remains is to deal with the approximately 400 provisional ballots cast on election day. Those are votes where there was some question about the voter's eligibility. A hearing on the ballots is set for 8 a.m. Friday at the Richland County Election Commission, located on 2020 Hampton Street. The public is invited to attend.

The completion of the counting ended another day of confusion at the election commission office. Thursday morning, officials there announced that about 150 uncounted paper ballots had been discovered in a closet. Hours later, an additional 43 were found in a bag, and another ballot was found in an office.

Previous Coverage: 190 Absentee Ballots Discovered |Unofficial Results Are In | Apparent Upset in Richland County Council

Those discoveries prompted the election commission to send employees throughout the office, checking to see if there were other ballots which needed to tallied. There apparently were no more.

The problems for the election process in Richland County began on election day, when people waited in long lines because of either too few machines at the precincts or malfunctioning devices. Previous Coverage: Richland County Ballot Trouble | Richland County Election Official: That is Unacceptable

After the election came calls for a recount, which put both the Democratic and Republican parties in the courtroom, leading to volley of legal developments.

The State Law Enforcement Division briefly had to take custody of ballots. Orders were issued by judges. The State Election Commission began counting ballots--then was ordered to stop.

Ultimately, the State Supreme Court threw the situation back to the county election commission, where for two days an official count took place.

Once the provisional ballot issue is decided, the vote will be certified by the State Election Commission at noon Friday, meaning the numbers will be official--10 days after election day.

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