South Carolina Bill to Require All Candidates, Including Incumbents, to File Electronic Statements of Interest

Three South Carolina State Senators have introduced SB 2, which would require all candidates for state and local office to file electronic statements of interest. Existing law requires electronic filing only for candidates who are not already public officials. During 2012, 250 candidates who were not already public officials were kept off primary ballots for failure to file electronically. The vast majority of these candidates had filed via paper and had not been informed that they had to file both paper forms and electronic forms.

The sponsors are Chip Campsen (R-Charleston), Larry Martin (R-Pickens) and Ronnie Cromer (R-Prosperity). The bill has already been sent to a Subcommittee.


South Carolina Bill to Require All Candidates, Including Incumbents, to File Electronic Statements of Interest — No Comments

  1. Election laws in force at least 6 months before each general election – to END the EVIL last second machinations.

  2. Existing law requires all statements of interest to be filed electronically. This is in the ethics code, rather than the election code. Existing law requires public officials to have a SOI on file, and thus did not have to file another one when they became a candidate. But there were public officials who failed to file their annual SOI, who were kept off the ballot.

    The existing election code also provides that when a person who is not a public official becomes a candidate, he must file a (paper) SOI with the party official along with his declaration of candidacy. That is, once someone potentially becomes a public official by becoming a candidate, they have to file a SOI.

    The party official would then forward the declaration to the election officials who were running the primary, and the paper SOI to the appropriate ethics body, where it would be keyed into the electronic system.

    In 2012, the confusion was increased because the annual filing deadline was just a few days after the filing deadline for candidates, and the ethics commission had misleading instructions on their website.

    Most of the candidates who were knocked off the ballot had filed electronically, so that if any citizen wanted to check for potential conflicts of interest, they could have simply checked the ethics commission website. The reason South Carolina switched to electronic filing was so citizens would not have to travel to Columbia and have a clerk rummage through filing cabinets, and also to eliminate transcription errors.

    But the elections code had not been updated to reflect the more practical electronic filing. Instead, candidates without an SOI on file (ie those who were not public officials) were expected to file a paper SOI along with their paper declaration of candidacy.

    The proposed law would require all candidates to first file an SOI electronically, and then when they filed their paper declaration of candidacy with party officials, the party official is required to check that the electronic SOI had been filed. The major (primary-nominating) party officials then forward the paper declaration of candidacy to election officials so that the candidate can be placed on the primary ballot.

    The proposed law would also require current public officials, either seeking re-election or another office to file a new SOI prior to filing their declaration of candidacy.

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