In an article published yesterday, we wondered what would happen with regard to South Carolina’s March 2020 filing period for the upcoming election cycle – which is scheduled to begin at 12:00 p.m. EDT today (March 16, 2020) and run for the next two weeks.
Basically, South Carolina politicians and aspiring officeholders looking to participate in 2020 partisan primaries are being asked to appear in person at county and state offices in the midst of peak panic related to the coronavirus pandemic (known officially as 2019-nCoV or COVID-19).
Shortly after our article was published, we received an answer to our question …
According to a news release from the S.C. State Election Commission (SCVotes.org), filing period is still on.
“All partisan candidates seeking office in the November 3, 2020 General Election must file during this period,” the agency noted in its statement.
According to SCVotes.org, the agency is “working with the Governor’s office to take actions necessary to ensure the health and safety of candidates and election officials during the 2020 March filing period.”
Among those actions?
From the release …
- Providing hand sanitizing stations.
- Frequent cleaning of common surfaces.
- Providing one-time use pens for signing documents. Candidates are also encouraged to bring their own pen.
- Providing signage to remind staff and visitors to practice good hygiene and social distancing, including refraining from shaking hands.
- Encouraging candidates to make an appointment to file. Appointments will be spaced 15 minutes apart to reduce the number of candidates in the office at the same time. Appointments are optional.
- Ensuring candidates are aware of the option to file by agent. This option may be particularly helpful to candidates who have underlying health conditions, are self-isolating, or are quarantined. Candidates may have any other person deliver a notarized Statement of Intention of Candidacy & Party Pledge form and any necessary filing fee check to the appropriate filing office.
- Designating appropriate staff as essential personnel to provide for ongoing operation in the event of state or county office closures.
- Training adequate backup staff to ensure continuity of operations in the event staff must be absent due to the impact of the virus.
“One-time use pens?”
In other election-related news, South Carolina governor Henry McMaster announced that 45 municipal elections across the Palmetto State scheduled to take place between March 19 and April 28 would be postponed until at least May 1, 2020.
“Specific dates will be announced later,” the agency noted.
For a full list of impacted races, click here.
How does McMaster have the authority to postpone nearly four dozen elections but not temporarily suspend candidate filing for the upcoming June primary elections?
(Click to view)
(Via: S.C. Governor)
Good question. Election sources we spoke with yesterday told us they “looked at (the) emergency powers of (the) governor and there’s nothing specific” to the filing period. Clearly, had they found a statute allowing McMaster (above) to bump the filing period back for a few weeks – our guess is he would have used it.
In addition to being required to appear in-person at election offices across the state to file their paperwork, politicians and aspiring candidates must also launch their campaigns in the midst of a global pandemic that is drowning out nearly all other news.
Not an ideal time to try and generate publicity …
All 170 seats in the S.C. General Assembly (124 House seats and 46 Senate seats) are up for election this year along with numerous county and local offices.
Partisan primary elections are scheduled for June 9, 2020 – with runoff elections scheduled for June 23, 2020, if necessary (if no candidate receives a majority of votes in a partisan primary election in South Carolina, the two top vote-getters advance to a head-to-head matchup two weeks later).
Once major party nominees are selected (and any petition candidates are certified), the general election is scheduled to take place on November 3, 2020.
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