South Carolina changes Election Law to provide for write-ins

In Fountain Inn, a scheduled special election to fill the unexpired seat of Andrew Stoddard was canceled because only one candidate registered for the election. Michael Maier was declared the winner. In Mauldin, Taft Matney and Dale Black are running unopposed and that election has been canceled as well. According to Chris Whitmire, director of public information and training and a spokesperson for the South Carolina State Election Commission, “those cancellations will be the last time unopposed candidates will be declared winners without an election.”

The South Carolina State Code 7 – 013 – 190 Subsection E has been eliminated.  The South Carolina House of Representatives in May, voted to remove the amendment to the code, subsection E which dealt with cancellations of elections where only one candidate was registered to run. It was put into effect several years ago as a possible way to save money by not having to run elections with no opposition. House Bill H3150 was voted on and will take effect January 1, 2018. All municipal elections in South Carolina will be required to complete the election process before declaring a winner.

The bill, sponsored by Camden representative Laurie Slade Funderburk was proposed to consider accepting an Attorney General’s opinion dated September 4, 2003. In his opinion, Henry McMaster concluded, “The amendments to § 7-13-190, which place severe restrictions on write-in voting and the counting of write-in votes, are constitutionally suspect. It has long been the opinion of this Office that the right to write-in the candidate of one’s choice is constitutionally protected by the Constitution of South Carolina. This right includes a write-in even on election day and where no write-in candidacy has been offered.”

With the House vote on May 4, 2017 and the Senate concurring on the 9th, the elimination of Sub section E of the South Carolina Code 7-013 – 190 was signed into law by the governor as Act No. 15 on May 15, 2017.♦


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