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Campaign 2014: Filing for office will follow new rules

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Donna Mahn, director of the Georgetown County Board of Elections and Registration, says the confusing rules that disqualified hundreds of candidates attempting to run in state and local elections two years ago have been clarified.

Filing for S.C. House of Representatives districts 103 and 108 and Georgetown County Council districts 1, 6 and 7 will be accepted March 17-30 at the county Board of Elections and Registration on Hazard Street, Georgetown. Filing for state constitutional offices, U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will be accepted during the same time period at the State Elections Commission, Columbia. The separation of the filing locations was just one of the solutions implemented after candidates failed to file Statements of Economic Interests both online and with their paper filing documents in 2012 as the law required. A court ruling said incumbents’ statements on file were acceptable, leaving many with only petition candidate challengers and an easier path to re-election.

All candidates and members of county election commissions must file Statements of Economic Interests online by March 30, Mahn said. “It’s a little bit different than in the past,” she said. “We used to have to get the Statement of Economic Interests done. That’s what caused the snafu. They still have to file it, but it’s not a requirement for us to take their filing.”

New software in counties will send filings for every office to the state Election Commission to be posted daily. “People will be able to see every day who’s filed by county,” Mahn said.

The fee to file for Georgetown County Council is $531.08, and the fee for the S.C. House is $208. Fees represent one percent of the salary over the full term. Hours to file will be 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 29, and Sunday, March 30.

Filing for the non-partisan Georgetown County Board of Education will take place Aug. 1-15.

Mahn reminded voters that the June 10 primary will be the first statewide election where voters must present one of five forms of photo identification: a driver’s license, a Highway Department identification card, a military ID, a U.S. passport or an Election Commission ID. Mahn said her office has been busy providing voters with an acceptable ID.

The South Carolina law was enacted in 2012, but the U.S. Justice Department argued the measure ran afoul of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark of the civil rights movement. A three-judge panel in U.S. District Court in Washington said unanimously that South Carolina’s law would not discriminate against racial minorities.

But the judges said there was too little time to put the law into effect in 2012, and added they might have blocked the law entirely if South Carolina had not pledged to give wide leeway to voters who cannot comply.

New voters must register by May 10 to be eligible to vote in the primary.

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