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Can South Carolina Afford More Special Elections?




A deluge of special elections – including a high-profile congressional battle – is likely to stretch the budget of the S.C. Election Commission (SCEC) to its breaking point.

Will it need a taxpayer bailout to make it through the year?  Hopefully not …

Assuming the U.S. Senate confirms Mick Mulvaney this week as the next director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a special election for the Palmetto State’s fifth congressional district would take place on June 20.

Obviously that race would fall within the current fiscal year for South Carolina state government – which ends on June 30.

According to our sources, the SCEC has enough money to cover the cost of this special election – which is likely to run taxpayers an estimated $500,000.  That cost, incidentally, includes a runoff election two weeks after a round of partisan primaries – which are tentatively scheduled for May 2 (again, assuming Mulvaney is confirmed this week).

In South Carolina, runoff elections between the two top vote-getters are held two weeks after partisan primaries in the event no candidate receives a majority of ballots cast.  If no runoffs are necessary in the fifth district congressional race, the cost of the special election would likely drop by $100,000.

However with six candidates seeking the GOP nomination, a runoff is exceedingly likely in this contest.

In addition to the special congressional election, the SCEC is preparing for several special elections within the state legislature.  And depending on the outcome of the ongoing #ProbeGate investigation, additional vacancies could prompt more special elections.

As we track the latest developments in the congressional race, we’ll continue to keep an eye on the SCEC budget situation.  As we’ve pointed out on multiple prior occasions, this is an agency which performs a core function of government – meaning it should be funded at a level commensurate with its responsibility.  And under the leadership of executive director Marci Andino, the SCEC has done its job with maximum efficiency and accountability.

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