Some in the state legislature are proposing a radical step — postponing the filing process and even the day that Republican and Democratic voters will choose their party’s candidates this summer — after failing to reach a deal on how the state lieutenant governor will be chosen this year.
Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2012 that puts the election of the governor and lieutenant governor on the same ticket. This will be the first election with the combined ticket. However, the General Assembly still has not approved legislation on how the joint ticket is to be achieved. As a result, current state law requires lieutenant governor candidates to file next month but the constitution says the party’s nominated candidate can only pick his or her choice for the job after June.
A frustrated State Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, introduced a proposal Thursday to push back this year’s primaries. “The June primary would be change from June to July 10,” he said on the Senate floor.“We just can’t seem to get voting laws right in South Carolina. This is a prime example, we have had five years to deal with something that the majority of voters in this state want us to do.”
The Senate passed a bill last year changing the election rules and laying out the lieutenant governor’s new role, but the House version has an amendment dealing with pay for other statewide elected officials and judges. The two sides remain at an impasse two months into this year’s session, with a conference committee failing to reach a deal.
Candidates begin filing for state offices next month.
Peeler said the delay could give them more time to work it out. “It would give the legislature at least another month to try and accomplish what we should have done years ago.”
South Carolina Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire told South Carolina Radio Network a delay has the potential to cause some voter confusion, but work could be done to reduce that. Whitmire said his agency’s main concern at this point is knowing the rules for how governor and lieutenant governor are to file and be elected in 2018.
Peeler said he is also worried about getting primary absentee election ballots in time to military members. “We can’t play with this calendar.”