Petition drives will mean work for candidates, election workers

More than 200 primary candidates in South Carolina were disqualified when the state Supreme Court ruled that that those candidates didn't properly file statements of economic interest.

Now, many of those candidates are trying to get back on the ballot for November as petition candidates.

State law requires those candidates to collect signatures from five percent of active registered voters in their district. The deadline is July 16. An active voter is defined as someone who has voted in the past four years.

That will make a lot of work for the candidates, but just as much or more for county election officials.

If you need a job, you may be able to get one at the Horry County election office next month, verifying all those signatures on candidate petitions.

"We're probably going to have to either bring in the (election) boards to help or hire some temporary to help with it," said Horry County election director Sandy Martin.

Martin expects up to 20 petition candidates in the county. At an estimated 800 names per petition, times 20 petitions, that adds up to 16,000 names that will have to be checked.

"First off we have to check to make sure that they're active registered voters, and then we have to make sure that they're in the district that they signed the petition for, and then have to verify their signatures."

Martin advises people who plan to sign a petition to write clearly. Signatures that are illegible will be disqualified, she said.

County Council district 6 candidate Marvin Heyd is going door to door in his district collecting signatures. It's a lot of work, but it has its benefits.

"You learn a little bit about the problems and concerns, more so than if I just went straight and filed," Heyd said.

Out of some 400 signatures Heyd has requested so far, he said only two people have turned him down.

Some GOP activists hope to streamline the petition process. They will host a drive-up petition drive at Horry County Republican headquarters.

"You pull up, roll your car window down, we'll come and see where you live, check your license, tell you which candidates you could sign for and ask you to sign for the candidates to put them back on the ballot," said Keith Jester, who's organizing the project.

Hours for the petition drive will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. next Monday through Thursday, at the GOP office on Highway 501 in Conway. Jester said volunteers will do the drive-up drive for at least two weeks and more if needed.