South Carolina is holding a primary election today, but hundreds of thousands of voters aren’t able to participate because almost 250 candidates were declared ineligible.
Those candidates, seeking offices ranging from sheriff to state senator, were decertified after the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled last month that the law requires candidates to file their economic interest forms at the time they file their candidacy. There was confusion over when the statements needed to be filed under a recent state law requiring online filing.
Nearly 50 of the decertified candidates were seeking General Assembly seats. Signs in polling places, open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. EDT, will tell voters that votes for decertified candidates won’t count.
In some places no one is on the ballot, and nearly 300 polling places in 14 counties won’t even open. Chris Whitmire of the State Election Commission says about 436,000 registered voters won’t be able to participate.
There are four congressional primaries to be decided, with most of the interest in the new 7th District in the northeastern corner of the state, where 13 candidates were running. South Carolina gained the seat as a result of population growth in the last census, and for the first time in eight decades the state again has seven House members.
There are nine Republicans, including former Lt. Gov. Andre Bower and former Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Chad Prosser, and four Democrats in the race.
Democratic state Rep. Ted Vick of Chesterfield dropped out last month after his arrest on a drunken driving and weapons charge in Columbia. Myrtle Beach Republican state Rep. Thad Viers quit after his January arrest on charges he harassed an ex-girlfriend.
In the Midlands’ 2nd District, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson again faces Phil Black of Lexington County, whom he defeated in the last two GOP primaries.
Nine state senators and 14 state House members face challengers Tuesday, and there will be 21 newcomers with incumbents either retiring or seeking another office and the election to fill the seat of former Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell.
After the court ruling, there are no major party candidates for four House seats.
Four House members are running for open seats. Republican Rep. Tom Young is a shoo-in as the only major-party candidate for the Aiken seat being vacated by Sen. Greg Ryberg, who’s retiring after 20 years.
Freshman Rep. Tom Corbin, a Republican of Greenville County, is running for two seats. He’s unopposed for a second term in the House and faces one primary opponent for Sen. Phil Shoopman’s seat. State law allows candidates to seek more than one seat.
Republican Senate committee chairmen with tough primary battles include Sens. Mike Fair and Davis Thomas, both of Greenville County, and Sen. Ronnie Cromer of Prosperity, whose redrawn district encompasses more of Lexington County. His three primary challengers include the Lexington County GOP’s immediate past chairman, Rich Bolen, former WIS-TV anchor Kara Gormley Meador and businessman Alan Hunter.
With four opponents, Thomas has the most crowded primary race of any incumbent. Fair lost one of his GOP opponents last week but still has one challenger.
In Spartanburg County, first-term Republican Sen. Lee Bright faces former Sen. John Hawkins, who wants his seat back. Gov. Nikki Haley inserted herself in that race Sunday by sending a mass e-mail to supporters asking them to support Bright. She planned to campaign for Bright on Monday.
The U.S. Justice Department plans to have representatives monitoring the polls in both Fairfield and Williamsburg counties. The department routinely monitors Southern elections to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and color.
It was not immediately clear why those two counties were chosen for monitors.