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      Candidate: New Richland County elections needed

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH, AP) -- A Republican who lost his bid to unseat a Richland County councilman is calling for a new election, saying county officials intentionally used too few voting machines on Election Day.

      Michael Letts said Monday it seems county election officials intentionally did not deploy enough voting machines in some parts of the county. Letts says so many people abandoned hours-long lines that new balloting should be held.

      "There is no cost factor that can come in that could be placed on denying folks the fundamental right to vote. You take the number of registered voters, divide it by 250, it tells you how many polling machines you need to have at each location. It was done in 45 other counties."

      Richland County Councilwoman Val Hutchinson said even though she won her race, she would start over in order to get everyone's vote counted. She said several residents are so frustrated, many stated they plan on relocating.

      "While an election might sound expensive, not fixing the betrayal of our citizens is going to be hugely expensive for Richland County in the years to come. It will rob us of prosperity."

      Letts lost to County Councilman Jim Manning 37 percent to 63 percent.

      Issues related to this year's elections are pending in court. The state Supreme Court is considering Republicans' request to overrule a circuit judge's decision to recount votes in a disputed Columbia House race.

      State legislators from the Columbia area are also questioning county election officials about the Election Day problems.

      Letts said this is not a Republican or Democrat issue, but that it is an issue of voters not being accounted for. He plans to contact Solicitor Dan Johnson on Tuesday. He hopes a new election will happen sooner rather than later.

      The Associated Press contributed to this story.