A Dorchester County mom with a knack for research is challenging whether Ben Frasier should remain a Democratic candidate for South Carolina's District 1 congressional seat.
"He's a Maryland resident, and he's ... claiming that South Carolina has been his home," said Nancy Suefert. "I have his tax records, which shows he's been declaring since 1999 that Maryland has been his residence."
Frasier, who did not return five telephone messages left Monday and Tuesday, gave four contact numbers to the South Carolina
Democratic Party when he paid the $3,386 filing fee last month. Three of them have Maryland area codes. The other appears to be to his house on Wadmalaw Island, which he gave as his address.
To qualify as a congressional candidate, a person must be a "qualified elector" in his or her district. Suefert has challenged whether Frasier's ties to Maryland should render him ineligible to vote in the 1st District. The Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration will hold a special hearing on the issue at 5:30 p.m. today.
Marilyn Bowers, director of the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, said the board will consider only whether Frasier is a legal resident here and whether he should remain on the county's voting rolls.
If the board were to remove him from the voting rolls, they would inform the state Democratic Party. "Our board is not ruling on his eligibility to be a candidate. The party certifies that, not us," Bowers said.
Suefert decided to investigate Frasier after talking about the congressional race with her children around the dining room table. "I have been preaching for years that before you vote for anyone, you research the candidate," she said.
What she found online intrigued her. She kept looking. "I'm not kidding you. It took me 20 minutes to find out this information. I have approximately 150 pages of documents to show the board."
While Suefert considers herself a Democrat, she said she's not connected with the campaign of Linda Ketner, Frasier's June 10 primary opponent.
Frasier, who worked for the late 1st District Rep. L. Mendel Rivers in the 1970s, has run for office more than a dozen times without winning, although two years ago he came close. He finished first in the three-way primary for the 1st District seat but lost in a runoff to Charleston real estate investor Randy Maatta, who then lost to Republican Henry Brown.
What is the law?
State law leaves it up to county registration boards to decide who is legally qualified to register to vote. If someone's qualifications are challenged, board members may consider:-- Income tax returns.-- Real estate interests.-- Mailing address.-- Address on driver's license.-- Official papers and documents requiring the statement of residence address.-- Automobile registration.-- Checking and savings accounts.-- Past voting record.-- Membership in clubs and organizations.-- Location of personal property.-- The elector's statements as to his or her intent.