Move past primary doldrums
Tuesday’s lackluster turnout matched the dismal run-up to the primary across the state, as more than 230 candidates were struck from the ballot because of a technicality in their filing. It was an election to forget — almost.
Just under 12 percent of registered voters came out to the polls, a sharp drop-off from previous primaries in which all 170 seats in the General Assembly were up for grabs. In 20 counties the turnout was 10 percent or less.
Only six incumbent legislators lost their seats, and two of those were battling other incumbents in districts where borders had been shifted by redistricting.
The election demonstrated both the power of incumbency and the fact that the sitting lawmakers were immune to the technical violation that cost the challengers their place on the ballot.
It’s enough to stoke anti-incumbency feeling in advance of the November general election.
Legislators had economic disclosure forms on file when they submitted their names for re-election. The challengers who failed to submit the disclosure form when they filed for office were tossed off the ballot by the S.C. Supreme Court. They failed to follow the letter of the law.
So blame the court, or the legislators for passing confusing laws, or party officials for not advising the candidates properly of the filing protocol.
But don’t blame the candidates for the primary train wreck.
How bad was it? Almost 300 polling places in 14 counties remained shutteredafter the court invalidated challengers on the ballot. An estimated 436,000registered voters couldn’t participate in the election as a result.
Indeed, the public should recognize the contribution of those who are making the daunting effort to get on the ballot in November as petition candidates.
If they are successful in gaining the necessary signatures before the July 16 deadline, the state could yet have a wider range of candidates in November.
A more competitive election general election at the state and local levels would do much to put this disastrous primary behind us.