COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - South Carolina's June 12 primary should be delayed because a state Supreme Court decision removed nearly 200 candidates from ballots, according to an attorney behind a federal lawsuit over the issue.
A delay is needed because state election officials violated federal law when they sent ballots to overseas voters and military members that only had federal races on them, Todd Kincannon told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
"The ballots that they mailed out to military voters are not worth the paper they are printed on," Kincannon said. "Each and every one of them is illegal because they are all in violation of the Voting Rights Act."
Under the Voting Rights Act, any changes to South Carolina's election law must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice because of the state's past failure to protect blacks' voting rights.
Kincannon represents Amanda Somers, a state Senate candidate who says her candidacy was thrown into question after the state Supreme Court ruled last week that financial- and candidate-intent paperwork must be filed at the same time. Somers was ultimately certified to remain on the ballot, but nearly 200 candidates were not, including 55 candidates for House and Senate races.
State election officials have said the federal law that requires them to send ballots overseas by 45 days before an election only applies to federal races, none of which were affected by the court ruling that financial and candidate paperwork must be filed simultaneously.
State lawmakers are considering a proposal that would restore most of the candidates' names by re-certifying all non-incumbents who filed required financial paperwork online or in person by April 20. That proposal would also require Justice Department approval, and even supporters of the fix say that the primary's timing makes that unlikely.
Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Camden, has suggested joining the federal lawsuit, saying the only way to avoid delaying the primaries until August is for a federal judge to find state law unconstitutional and order a solution.
A hearing in the case is scheduled Thursday.