CONWAY, South Carolina (CNN) – Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign sought to expand polling hours in an eastern county plagued by malfunctioning voting machines Saturday that forced some people to use any scrap of paper to vote in the Republican presidential primary.
State Rep. Tracey Edge, R-Myrtle Beach, said the campaign was trying to find a circuit court judge to issue the ruling.
"We are seeking an order to extend the voting time, because of reported and publicized information that people were turned away from the polls,” Edge said.
All polls in the South Carolina Republican Primary are scheduled to close at 7 p.m. ET. Complicating matters for McCain is that the county has one resident circuit court judge, who they have not yet been able to reach. McCain did very well in Horry County when he ran for president in 2000.
The McCain campaign was also telling supporters residing in this county to make sure their vote was counted.
Lisa Bourcier, public information for Horry County, said that 80 percent of the voting machines were back on-line as of 1:30 p.m. ET. Bourcier said that 80 percent of the 118 precincts in this county, that hugs the coastline, were affected by the machine outages.
The problem with the machines was due to human error, she said. Bourcier explained that the final step in preparing the machines is a “clearing test,” that resets the machine data to 0. This was not done on most of the machines, she said, essentially locking them and thus making them unable to function.
As of 4 p.m. ET, there are approximately four remaining precincts with no working machine. Bourcier said that they are waiting to see if the polls will need to remain open and noted that 40 to 50 extra people will be brought in tonight to hand count the ballots.
Earlier in the day, Katon Dawson, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, said that he had confidence that the voting problems would be fixed.
“We expect a full and fair count,” Dawson said in a telephone interview with CNN. “In South Carolina, our citizens take the right to vote very seriously. We have full confidence in our state elections commission, which is running this primary. Any questions that have arisen are being addressed.”
Dawson noted that “there is always a backup in case there is an election machine malfunction and a ballot can’t be cast.”
The South Carolina primary is considered a critical contest on the road to the GOP presidential nomination.
- CNN’s Lisa Desjardins and Mark Preston