Columbia, SC (WLTX) - In the past year, it's started to feel like another day, another candidate filing suit to get on a ballot here in our state. The latest two controversies come out of Sumter.
A judge took the only candidate running for Coroner off the ballot and a different lawsuit looks to get two Senate candidates kicked off theirs.
As far as these individual races go, it's still up in the air about what's going to happen. The Sumter County Democratic and Republican parties have to certify candidates by noon on August 15th, so they have until then to figure it out.
But, these issues will most likely affect voter confidence and that's putting pressure on lawmakers. "The legislation has inadvertently - and it's important to say that, it's inadvertent - but it's created a great deal of uncertainty about what we're going to do and how we're going to get candidates qualified to run for office," explains Mark Tompkins.
He's a political science professor at USC. "Pressure is growing, when candidates are thrown off the ballot, when people who we expect to be viable candidates don't get on the ballot," he says.
Much of the confusion stems from filing guidelines and what qualifications a potential candidate has to meet. That pressure could mean action at the State House next year. Says Tompkins, "Think events like the events we're talking about in the last couple of days increase the likelihood that when they come back in January, the General Assembly's going to get after this pretty quickly."
This week, Shawn Ragin was thrown off the ballot for Coroner after a judge ruled he didn't meet qualifications. Wednesday, Eddie Drayton filed a lawsuit to have the Democrat and Republican candidates for Senator Phil Leventis' seat disqualified and himself put on the ballot. "Voters have got to be scratching their heads and saying, 'What the heck is going on here?' And they're probably assigning too much blame," Tompkins says.
For the professor, it's a complicated issue - particularly with the newer guidelines - that may just take a little getting used to.
But, that doesn't mean it won't be on folks' minds in November or that the courts won't have large hand in deciding what names are on the ballot for the voters to hold responsible. "And the bad news is that because the law is so complicated and unclear and ambiguous and creates these conflicting expectations, the courts really have to weigh in," says Tompkins.
News19 did put in a call to the head of the Sumter County Democratic Party about the Coroner's race - Ragin is a Democrat. No response yet, but they said earlier this week that they plan to abide by the court's ruling.
The head of the County Republican Party - Drayton is a Republican - says she hasn't been served with the lawsuit yet. but is confident they followed procedure when the current candidate filed.