COLUMBIA — A judge has ordered that votes in a contested South Carolina legislative race be guarded by state police until a hearing can be held on alleged voting irregularities in Richland County.

Circuit Judge Casey Manning on Thursday signed the request from the South Carolina Democratic Party.

Democrats want a recount of the House District 75 race. A cascade of Election Day problems delayed the county’s unofficial results until late Wednesday. Long lines of voters, too few voting machines and broken counting scanners delayed counts.

Richland County’s preliminary tally shows Republican Kirkman Finlay as the race’s unofficial winner over Democrat Joe McCulloch.

County officials have not explained how the problems occurred. Election officials deferred comment to Richland County’s legislative delegation, who did not comment on the request.


Kinnard can be reached at