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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Richland County election officials are still counting ballots a day after voters in some precincts stood in line for seven hours to vote.

County election commission deputy director Garry Baum says officials hope to wrap up their work counting votes on Wednesday evening.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Baum says reports from nine precincts remain to be counted. He says about 15,000 absentee ballots were counted on Wednesday.

Baum says he still has no explanation for the long lines and voting machine woes that left so many voters standing in line for hours.

Poll managers blamed failed voting machines and heavy turnout for the backups. But Baum says he has no exact figures on how many of the county's 1,000 election voting machines in its 124 precincts didn't work.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Richland County election officials were still counting ballots into the evening, a day after voters in some precincts stood in line for seven hours to vote.

County election commission deputy director Garry Baum said officials intend to look into what happened, but had no definitive answers as they tried to wrap up the tally.

We still have absentee paper ballots to complete, said Baum, adding that officials hoped to have something to say about the Tuesday's results later Wednesday. Votes are to be certified Friday.

Poll managers blamed failed voting machines and heavy turnout for the backups, but Baum said he had no exact figures on how many of the county's 1,000 election voting machines in its 124 precincts didn't work.

He said the last precinct turned its machines in around 2 a.m. Voters in some precincts were still in line hours after they closed at 7 p.m., he said.

State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said Richland County, home to the state capital, was the only one of the state's 46 counties in the state that reported serious problems.

We definitely heard more about Richland than anywhere else in the state, Whitmire said. A voter waiting four, five, six hours to vote, that shouldn't happen.

Leaders of both political parties faulted broken machines and poorly trained poll workers. They called on local county officials to take responsibility for the mess and fix it.

There's no excuse for this. We think this is a debacle, said GOP Chairman Chad Connelly. Someone needs to come forward and say, `We goofed up.' No one should go to the polls and find three, four hour waits.

This was unacceptable in every sense, said State Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian. They didn't allocate enough machines and apparently, the poll personnel weren't well trained.

Harpootlian also said machines weren't adequately distributed among the precincts.

Whitmire said state election officials dispatched extra voting machines to some polling places in Richland County, and it also sent extra technicians out to service broken machines.

Delays appeared to depend on the precinct. It took several hours to vote at in northeast Richland County, while others in the county reported no problems. Across the river in Lexington County, voters reported no problems.

It's the county's responsibility to make sure the voting machines are maintained, that they are properly allocated, and that they have an election support plan, Whitmire said.

But the spokesman said the county's first order of business Wednesday is to finish its ballot count, and then look back to find out what happened on election night.

They can't do anything about last night this morning, he said. The spokesman pointed out that state lawmakers have considered many pieces of legislation to increase early voting, and haven't acted on them.

Whitmire said that under state law, local governments are supposed to provide one machine per 250 registered voters, and that he believed the county had enough machines. However, voters reported that at some sites several machines were down at the same time.

Early voting would help take the pressure off of the 12-hour system set up for Election Day, Whitmire said. We have advocated for years that voters be allowed to cast ballots over a two-week period prior to Election Day.

Whitmire said state turnout was heavy, but did not set a record. About 1,850,000 votes were cast for president in the state.

About 400,000 South Carolinians voted absentee, surpassing the previous high set in 2008 by roughly 60,000 voters, he said.

Voter registration in the state has also hit a new high, with 2.9 million people registered by Nov. 2. That's an additional 323,000 potential voters for this presidential election, compared with four years ago.

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