Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Richland County Election Officials have certified the county's final vote total, 10 days after election day.
Certification came just after 4 p.m. Friday.
The State Supreme Court said counting was to have been complete and certified by noon, but the commission first said they needed an extra hour or two. They later came back and said they needed until 4 o'clock.
An attorney for the commission says the Supreme Court gave them an extension until Monday to finish, but the commission said that wasn't necessary.
The extension also gives those seeking to file challenges of the election results until noon on November 26, to do so.
Beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, Richland County Election officials sorted through hundreds of provisional ballots.
Provisional ballots are those that are cast where there's some dispute about the eligibility of the voter. Typical examples include votes cast by people who didn't show up on the voter rolls at the precinct they tried to vote at, or who didn't have the accepted ID when voting. Poll workers can even challenge a vote cast, and the condition of the ballot could cause a vote to be unacceptable.
Election officials then have to decide, after election day, if these votes will be part of the final count.
During Friday's hearing, ballots were rejected for several reasons, including the following:
- no signature, no witness, no proper ID, or later return
- people voted at the wrong precinct
- people were not registered to vote in Richland County
- people attempted to vote at the Election Commission's headquarters in Columbia. Their headquarters is not a precinct
Commissioners voted to reject about 617 ballots. Another 271 were accepted, and needed to be tallied and added to counts found and calculated Thursday night.
That counting process added to the time needed to certify the votes Friday. Some needed to be transferred manually due to damaged ballots. That transfer required two people, including a commissioner to ensure voters were transmitted to the new ballots correctly.
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. Since then, there have been legal challenges which have delayed a final tabulation.
The county election commission has hired an attorney, Steve Hamm, who is charged with completing a through report on this year's election process. That report will include a chronology and information on what happened before, during and after the election.
The Richland County Legislative Delegation has scheduled a meeting for November 26 to discuss the problems with the election.
Chris Whitmire, a spokesman for the state election commission says they will certify Richland County's votes on Monday at 2 p.m.