The S.C. Supreme Court today tossed a handful of Florence County Republican candidates off next week’s primary ballot.
In a case that the court heard earlier this week, the Florence Democratic Party argued that its Republican counterpart had ignored an earlier Supreme Court ruling that candidates had to file their statement of economic interests at the same time and with the same official as they filed their statement of candidacy .
The court agreed, ruling the Florence GOP improperly applied its ruling last month.
The court directed the Florence party to file with it, the Florence County Election Commission and the State Election Commission a list candidates who simultaneously filed the two forms and a sworn statement that all of those candidates were properly qualified to run by 10 a.m. Wednesday.
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The court also ordered the Florence Election Commission, if possible, to correct the ballots to be used next Tuesday to remove all improperly certified candidates. If that isn’t possible, the court ordered signs placed in all affected polls with the names of all improperly certified candidates whose names are on the ballot and advising that votes cast for any of those candidates will not be counted.
The court also ordered the Florence GOP to pay all of the costs of changing primary ballots or posting signs at polls. It also ordered the Florence Election Commission not to count any votes cast for improperly certified candidate.
State GOP leaders were disappointed.
"The Supreme Court has injected itself into the political parties' once exclusive right to choose their candidates," S.C. GOP Chairman Chad Connelly said. "Instead of seeing the law as the legislature intended, the court created a 'Frankenstein' -- a set of hypertechnical rules that defy common sense and ignore the instructions of the state's own Ethics Commission. In the process, the court has disenfranchised thousands of South Carolina voters."