Court decision leaves SC primary in turmoil

More than 200 candidates disqualified for election

UPDATED 11:06 AM EDT Jun 07, 2012

A decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court has left the upcoming June 12 election a mess.

Justices ruled Tuesday that Florence County Republicans incorrectly certified candidates who hadn’t properly filed economic disclosure papers.

Florence County Democrats accused the GOP of not following the court’s May 2 ruling that candidates must submit proof they’ve filed financial paperwork at the same time they file candidacy documents.

The court warned other counties that they ignore the justice’s earlier ruling “at their own peril.”

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday turned down Florence County Republicans’ request for clarity on the ruling.

Nearly 200 candidates were dropped from ballots last month after justices ruled that financial and candidacy paperwork must be submitted together.

The Florence County GOP disqualified four more candidates after Tuesday’s ruling.

On Wednesday, Kylie Johnson, with the Oconee County election commission, said the primary was called off after officials determined that none of the 11 challengers had filed paperwork appropriately, leaving no qualified candidates for the ballot.   Guess I won’t be voting. – Phoebe

Voters cannot write-in candidates for primary elections. Johnson said decertified candidates only option would be to run as petition candidates, meaning they would have to petition signatures that would have to be verified and certified by the Board of Elections. If they get signatures equivalent to 5 percent of the registered voters in their district, they will be allowed to appear on the November General Election ballot as non-partisan candidates.

Voters will be able to write-in whatever candidates they want in the General Election.

The Greenville County elections office is still waiting to hear from respective party chairs. As of Wednesday, they said the ballot is not changing.

But Greenville County Elections Director Conway Belangia said the ruling will affect absentee voting. If a person is disqualified, the vote will not count. Belangia said this leaves the opportunity for a candidate who loses the primary to potentially sue, claiming the victor may not have been properly certified.

In Anderson County, five GOP candidates have been decertified: sheriff candidate Creed Hashe, County Council hopefuls Denny Floyd, Ann Smith and Mitchell Cole, and State House candidate Ted Luckadoo.

Laurens County Democratic Chair John Henley confirmed two Democratic candidates decertified. An Eric Robinson and he couldn’t remember the other name.

Spartanburg and Pickens counties have not yet said if any candidates are affected.

The confusion follows a Supreme Court ruling that denied a party attorney’s request to specify if current officeholders who already had financial paperwork on file must resubmit those documents if they seek a different office.

County parties around the state are re-examining candidate lists for the June 12 primary after the high court ruled Tuesday that Florence County Republicans disregarded an earlier ruling regarding paperwork submission and just certified all candidates

As it stands, signs will be posted at polling places naming the decertified candidates, and warning voters that a vote cast for those candidates will not be counted.

The State Republican Party had told News 4 that it would hold a news conference at 10 a.m. on Thursday at the State Supreme Court building, but as of 11 a.m., no news conference had been held.



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