Due to today’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act, a recently-passed bill that changes political candidate registration in the state no longer needs approval from the U.S. Dept. of Justice and goes into immediate effect.
As a result, registration requirements are changing right in the middle of an candidate filing cycle, leaving four people in need to register again.
Marlon Kimpson, Margaret Rush and Emmanuel Ferguson already filed with the Charleston County Democratic Party for the special election to fill the state Senate 42 seat, according to chair Richard Hricik, but will have to file again with the county’s Board of Elections and Voter Registration.
“I spoke with all of them,” Hricik said. “They know they need to re-register.”
A Republican candidate (Billy Shuman) will also need to file again.
Earlier today, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires federal oversight over particular districts during elections, is still valid. Section 4, however, which details the criteria used to determine if a district is subject to Section 5, is outdated, the court ruled, and must be changed.
Shortly after the ruling was announced, Dorchester County BEVR director Joshua Dickard submitted email to the county’s Republican and Democratic Party chairpersons that reads “since Section 4 was found unconstitutional, Section 5 is now moot.
“Hence, S. 2 (Equal Access to the Ballot Act) which was signed on June 13, 2013 is effective immediately and does not have to go through [U.S. Dept. of Justice] approval.”
The Equal Access Act changes the way candidates must register to run for office in South Carolina, along with other nomination-procedure amendments. Whereas Republican and Democratic candidates previously had to file with their parties, they must now register their campaigns for local races directly through the BEVR in their counties and with the State Election Commission for statewide or national offices.
Before today’s Supreme Court decision, the Equal Access Act was not fully in effect, as South Carolina still needed federal approval for any changes to voting and election laws, according to the Voting Rights Act.
Candidate registration for the special election to replace recently-resigned state Sen. Robert Ford, whose Dist. 42 includes parts of both Dorchester and Charleston Counties, began on June 21 and ends on July 1.
The primary race is scheduled for Aug. 13, and the final election takes place on Oct. 1.