COLUMBIA — An effort to put South Carolina candidates back on June primary ballots died on the Senate floor Wednesday evening.
Senate Republicans failed to attach to an election bill on “third reading” an amendment re-instating candidates who filed required financial forms by April 20, when including a five-day grace period.
They hoped to attach it to a measure that cleared the House last year, but they never got to the amendment.
The attempt to fast-track the proposal required, by two-thirds majority, overriding a Senate rule barring unrelated amendments to a bill — an extremely rare move. The override failed 24-15 after several hours of debate.
Republicans and Democrats afterward pointed the blame at each other.
“We tried. We made a good faith effort, and we lost,” said Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin, R-Pickens.
Nearly 200 candidates — more than a dozen from the Lowcountry — were tossed off June 12 primary ballots after the Supreme Court ruled last week they had to hand over the paper form at the same time they filed their candidacy.
The two-week filing period ended March 30. Those tossed included 55 candidates for House and Senate.
Since 1991, state law has required candidates to turn in the “economic interest” form, intended to show voters any potential conflicts of interests, when they file their candidacy.
The confusion stems from a 2010 law requiring online filing. But that applied to incumbents’ annual April 15 deadline for submitting the forms. The court ruled state law still required those seeking office to file the paper form in person.
Meanwhile, an attorney behind a federal lawsuit over the issue said the primary should be delayed because state election officials violated federal law when they sent ballots to overseas voters and military members that only had federal races on them.