COLUMBIA, SC — State and county election offices should open Sunday, the first day candidates can file for the June primaries, State Rep. Bakari Sellers, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, asked the S.C. Election Commission on Thursday.
Some county offices will not open Sunday. They include the state's three most-populated counties -- Richland, Greenville and Charleston
"Although we appreciate that March 16th is a Sunday, we are shocked that these offices refuse to open and allow citizens to offer themselves for public office," Sellers wrote to S.C. Election Commission director Marci Andino said.
In an interview, Sellers said the state "needs to go above and beyond" to assure open access after hundreds of candidates were thrown off ballot in 2012 over a filing technicality.
"We don't need to lose any more confidence in the process," he said.
Sellers said he plans to introduce legislation that would require county election offices to open everyday during the two-week filing period.
Filing periods run during the same two-week periods.
The primary period runs from noon March 16 to noon March 30. They happen to be on Sundays this year for the June 10 primary.
State and county election offices are not required to open on weekends except in the last 72 hours of a filing period when they must be open at least four hours a day, election commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said.
That means elections offices will be open for at least four hours on March 29 and March 30.
With two weeks to sign up, "we don't think (weekend closings) will hamper anyone's ability to file for office," Whitmire said.