Petition candidates race against deadline

COUNTY — Following the removal of more than 200 candidates from ballots statewide before the June primary last month, many Pickens County candidates are now working to become petition candidates and get placed on the ballot in November.
Pickens County candidates who are currently seeking to be placed on the November ballot as petition candidates are Kevin Link (County Council District 3), Tim Morgan and Stan Whitten (Sheriff), Chris Bowers (County Council District 5), Rex Rice (S.C. Senate) and Ed Harris (S.C. House District 3).
Candidates have set up two last-minute opportunities for voters to sign petitions. The first is being held by Conservatives of the Upstate on Wednesday at the Pickens County Flea Market, and the second will be Thursday at Cynthia’s Flowers on S.C. 8 in Pickens, held by Operation Lost Vote.
All of the candidates must have their petitions signed and turned in no later than Monday at noon.
The only possible petition candidate that was not originally removed from the June primary ballot is Pickens County Assistant Sheriff Tim Morgan.
Morgan told the Courier that he had promised to never run against current Pickens County Sheriff C. David Stone, who was defeated by Rick Clark in June.
“I am collecting signatures of Pickens County registered voters in an effort to be a petition candidate for Sheriff on the November 6 ballot,” Morgan said.
“This is the first opportunity I have had to run for sheriff and keep my word to never run against Sheriff Stone,” he said. “It would not have been the right thing to do and it would not have been in the best interest of the sheriff’s office. We would have been a house divided, and that is never a good thing. I respect the other candidates and hope to join them on the ballot if I am successful acquiring the 3,300 signatures. I am grateful to all of the people helping me with this effort.”
According to the Pickens County Registration and Elections Commission, all citizens may file by petition to become candidates for almost every office on this year’s ballot. There are no filings fees for petition candidates, but the petitioner must meet all qualifications for the office. Petition candidates are not linked to any “straight party” ticket, nor is any party affiliation displayed on the ballot for these candidates. At the time of filing their petition for candidacy, the citizen must submit a complete printout of where they completed their Statement of Economics Interests Form on the State Ethics Commission website. Citizens filing for the office of Coroner or Sheriff must additionally complete affidavits and have them notarized.
The deadline for petition candidates to file their complete petitions and any additional paperwork required for the November 6 general election is noon on Monday, July 16. There are no exceptions for emergencies, bad traffic, bad weather, etc. The receiving authority for the petition will issue a receipt. Once a petition is submitted, the petitioner cannot come back to add additional signature pages. The Pickens County Registration & Elections Commission has until noon on August 15 to validate all signatures on the petitions submitted. Those who have submitted petitions are not candidates until their petitions have been validated.
To be nominated by petition, a citizen must file a nominating petition containing the valid signatures of at least 5 percent of the active, registered voters in the geographical area the office represents and meet all qualifications of the office. The number is based on the total number of registered voters in the geographical area 120 days prior to the election, which for the November 6 election was July 9.
Candidates are required to complete ethics forms. State law requires these forms to be completed online. Both the Statement of Economic Interests and the Campaign Disclosure Form must be filed electronically.