Bill could standardize local elections across South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - On Tuesday, voters across South Carolina will head to the polls for municipal elections like mayoral and city council races.
While these don’t generate the same attention and turnout as bigger elections, they’re just as important because the people elected in them are the ones making decisions directly in your community.
While statewide and federal elections are held in even years, most municipal elections in South Carolina are held in odd years.
But there’s no law requiring this. In fact, there are barely any restrictions on when municipal elections can be held in the state.
“The old joke is, there’s an election day every Tuesday in South Carolina,” said Rep. Brandon Newton, R-Lancaster. “So the goal here was to provide some standardization to that.”
A bill under consideration at the State House would require municipal elections in South Carolina take place in odd years.
And elections would only be allowed on two days – one in April and one in November – while still offering the early voting options voters already have.
The legislation would also require all municipalities to use the state voting system in their local elections.
The bill’s sponsor says a handful of smaller cities and towns are using their own systems for their own elections, but the State Election Commission wants everyone under the same system for all races.
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“It gives confidence to the voter because imagine if you’re a voting and you’ve always voted on our system, and you walk in there, and there’s something different in front of you for this election,” Newton said. “It’s confusion, but also, it hurts the trust in the system because why are you using a different system for just this one election?”
The House passed this bill earlier this year – and a group of senators has been working on it this fall.
But the full Senate won’t be able to debate and vote on it – until the legislature returns here in January.
Senators are also considering closing a loophole in state law that requires incumbents to stay in office – potentially against their will – if a candidate challenges municipal election results.
Their amendment would, instead, allow the winner to take office, once results have been certified – while the challenge proceeds in the court system.
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