Filing snafu could leave candidates off ballot

Some of your favorite candidates' names may be missing from the primary ballot this June. Up to 100 candidates from both parties all over the state could be declared ineligible by the state Supreme Court.

All candidates for public office in the state must file a statement of economic interests with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. The purpose is to disclose any potential conflicts of interest for the candidate.

This year, the deadline for the form to be submitted was the same as the candidates' filing deadline, March 30.

But according to a lawsuit filed by two voters from Lexington County, many candidates from both parties did not file their forms on time.

Party leaders say that could be due to a change in the way the statements were handled this year.

"Previously, they had to do (the statements) on paper, but the state required them to do it online this time, and so that might have been the confusion," said Horry County Democratic party chairperson Doris Potter-Hickman.

The SC Supreme Court may rule that those candidates should be left off the primary ballot, including more than a dozen Horry County candidates, in the House and Senate, county council and school board races.

Johnnie Bellamy, chairperson of the Horry County Republican Party declined to talk to NewsChannel 15 on camera, but said the party is telling GOP candidates to keep campaigning as usual for now.

Potter-Hickman said all of her party's candidates are in compliance, though there are only seven Democratic candidates in the county.

She said the issue deals with integrity and accountability, and there's no excuse for those who missed the deadline.

"You have to know what it is that is required of you, you have to recognize your timelines and then you have to meet your timelines," Potter-Hickman said. "So when one says that, it means that he or she has not done his or her due diligence."

Officials from the SC Election Commission had planned to send out absentee ballots by this weekend, but the state Supreme Court won't hear the case until next Tuesday, May 1.

We tried to contact a spokesman for the state election commission. He did not return our calls.