COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – A panel of state lawmakers took up a bill this week that would reform municipal elections in South Carolina.
Currently, South Carolina lacks a state law that designates a specific date for municipalities to hold their elections. This has resulted in a diverse range of election dates, causing logistical challenges for both election officials and voters.
“The old joke is there’s an Election Day every Tuesday in South Carolina,” said Representative Brandon Newton (R-Lancaster).
According to Newton, the proposed bill would standardize municipal elections. It passed the House unanimously earlier this year.
The legislation would require all local elections to be held on one of three specific days in odd-numbered years. These dates would fall in March, July, or November.
Currently, a little less than 70 cities and towns hold their elections in even years.
Rep. Newton said this change would eliminate the confusion caused by varying election dates across the state.
The panel amended the bill to address another significant aspect of the proposed legislation involving closing a local election law loophole.
Right now, if an incumbent municipal official faces a challenge to the election’s outcome, they are required to remain in office until the matter is resolved.
Senator Chip Campsen (R-Charleston) said this provision does not exist at any other level of state or federal elections in South Carolina.
Sen. Campsen offered up the amendment so that officials are not forced to continue “serving against their will.”
After amending the bill, the subcommittee carried it over to a later date. The earliest it could be considered on the Senate floor is in January, when the legislative session resumes.