Petition drive underway to restore candidates

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To November ballots

By Stan Welch – Slow and steady was the key as candidates removed from their party’s ballots during the June primaries sought signatures to restore them to the ballots in the November general election.

Anderson County Republican Party Chairman Dan Harvell said that a slow but steady response to the petitions to qualify the various candidates was successful. Hundreds of candidates from both parties were stricken from the ballots when the SC Supreme Court upheld a requirement that the intent of candidacy and the candidates’ statements of economic interest be filed simultaneously was legal, even though most filed both documents ahead of the filing deadline.

Harvell said that the Anderson Republican and Democratic parties saw the issue as one of voters rights, and that their cooperation with each other was a key in the petition drives’ success.

“We actually saw a great deal of crossover, with voters from the various districts signing both Republican and Democrat candidates’ petitions to help them regain their place on the ballot. I think we all realized that despite our differences, politically, we are all Americans first, and we believe we should have a choice,” said Harvell. He added that nearly all the involved candidates had obtained the number of signatures needed, but continued to build “a cushion” in case some names are not valid.

Candidates and volunteers from both parties gathered on two separate days at the main Anderson County Library to encourage voters to sign the petitions. “The library allowed us to use the building since both parties were involved. In the Belton and Powdersville branches, where only Republican candidates were involved, we were denied the use of the buildings.”

District Six County Council challenger Ann Smith didn’t let that stop her. She used free hot dogs and drinks to attract signers and has 860 names. She needs only 794 and plans to obtain 900 names, since a certain percentage of such signatures fail to pass muster when being certified.

Smith says that she has been busy certifying her signatures and so far, rejects number just a handful. “I know several people who I don’t really expect to vote for me signed my petition because they are angry about the way this whole issue was handled. I have had great support and thank everyone who signed their names.”

Harvell echoed those sentiments, saying that the resentment people felt about the change in regulations as well as the Supreme Court’s decision isn’t a fleeting thing. “People are still very upset about this and I think and hope that it will result in an increased voter turnout.”

Less than ten per cent of Anderson’s registered voters turned out for the primaries.