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Do you want to be a write-in candidate? It’s easier than you think.

With the Simpsonville City Council election line up set, we are faced with three candidates running unopposed. As sad as that is, there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Running as a write-in candidate is now less complicated. A state law was passed last year that changed the law to ensure that all races would be on the ballot even though a candidate is unopposed.

In the past if a candidate faced no opposition the election was canceled, and the lone candidate was declared the winner. Under that forum if a citizen wanted to run as a write-in candidate they had to sign up before a certain date and register as a write-in candidate in order to qualify to run. As it stands now if a duly qualified candidate; living in the correct ward desired to run as a write-in he or she could begin campaigning and could win the election without registering and without filing ethics commission paperwork. However, if that write-in candidate were to win, they then would be certified by the election commission and then be subject to ethics commission regulations.

As reported in last month’s issue, Melvin Wells filed paperwork and began a campaign for the Ward 1 seat in Simpsonville. After some deliberation, he resigned. Wells cited increased business challenges as well as family considerations. His name will not appear on the ballot as he resigned before the deadline to prepare the ballots.

If you live in a ward that is on the ballot and you are a qualified registered voter, you could run as a write-in. Actually, anybody could run as a write-in, but if you win you would have to prove that you live in that ward.
South Carolina is celebrated as home to one of the most dramatic and unexpected write-in candidate victories. In 1954 former South Carolina governor Strom Thurmond announced his intention to run as a write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate. The state Democratic Party decided after the death of Sen. Maybank to appoint a successor instead of having a party primary. He capitalized on public outrage and ran an independent write-in campaign.

On November 2, 1954 Strom Thurmond won with 63% of the vote and thereby became the first person ever elected to the Senate as a write-in candidate in a general election. A campaign gimmick that obviously worked, was the distribution of pencils with a message on them that said, “Write-in Strom Thurmond”. Good luck with your campaign!♦

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