Gov. Haley signs new measure to clear candidate confusion
Wed, 19 Jun 2013 21:50:30 GMT —
COLUMBIA (WACH) - A measure is now in place that could head off an election fiasco that caused some voters in the state to lose faith in the system.
Last spring, less than two dozen lawmakers in the state's General Assembly had opponents in their primaries after a clerical error bounced hundreds of would be candidates off the ballot.
The public backlash was fierce and went all the way to the state Supreme Court.
Now, some say it will never happen again.
Gov. Nikki Haley signed a new measure that clears up any confusion for future candidates on Wednesday.
"You had 200 people that wanted to fight, 200 people that wanted to serve, and they were denied access to do something that we so desperately need," said Haley.
The new law makes clear who is responsible for accepting a candidates documents when they file to run for office.
Something called a statement of economic interest was the hang up last year. A late filing meant an immediate disqualification, despite few knowing how to properly file, or even accept the documents.
Under the new measure, a late filing will result in a fine, not disqualification.
"Two hundred people plus will never have to go through what Senator Thurmond and I had to go through," said Lexington Sen. Katrina Shealy.
Shealy became the poster child for revamped election laws after she was booted from the ballot, but earned her way back on after collecting thousands of signatures to become a petition candidate in last November's election. She ultimately unseated longtime lawmaker Jake Knotts.
"What this is going to do, it's going to make sure that people like all the people across South Carolina will always have a choice when they go to the ballot. They get to choose who they get to vote for, and it won't always be incumbates," said Shealy.
Lawmakers say this change in how candidates file also ensures no one is pressured or intimidated when they file to run for office. The measure goes into effect immediately.