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      SC high court orders ballots returned

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina's Supreme Court has ordered state police to return ballots and voting machines to Richland County officials so that they can be tallied.

      The court said in an order issued Tuesday afternoon that county officials have until noon Friday to canvass the votes and give the results to state authorities, who will certify them that day.

      Liz Crum from The Richland County Election Commission told media that they will continue the counting process on Friday.

      "People forget that we never finished counting the vote so this is not a recount that can only take place after you have had a certification we haven't had that," said Crum.

      The high court vacated a circuit judge's ruling ordering that all votes in Richland County be recounted after an Election Day disaster that included hours-long voting lines and broken machines. State Democrats had wanted votes recounted but dropped that request earlier Tuesday.

      The justices did note that their order wouldn't prevent county commissioners from ordering a recount if they determined one was required.

      State Party leaders admit that the voting system in Richland County is broken and they want answers.

      "There are a lot of questions to be answered but before we ever get to those questions we need to get the votes counted and that's why we brought the action we did and that's why we are happy with the State Supreme Courts ruling today," said Dick Harpootlian, SC Democratic Party.

      "The fact is we want the law to be followed, it wasn't followed here and we think they're going to get answers here soon in Richland County," said Matt Moore, SC Republican Party.

      The State Supreme Court has given the SC Election Commission until Friday evening to complete the voting counting process.