Biden, Harris Left Off First Sample Ballot In South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris have been added to sample ballots in South Carolina after initially being left off the voter education pieces.
The sample ballots were made public Thursday, and shortly thereafter accusations began to fly that the Republican-controlled South Carolina Election Commission had purposefully left the Democrats off the ballot in an effort to confuse voters.
The situation was brought to light by Charleston, S.C.’s, Post and Courier newspaper, which had been alerted to the situation by a tipster.
State Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson later tweeted a photo of the state party’s letter, dated Sept 3., stating it had formally certified Biden and Harris as its candidates. The letter was stamped “received” by the Election Commission the same day.
In his tweet, Robertson said, “The deadline for certifying our nominee for president is September 8. We have complied with the statutes and laws of SC. The Election Commission should not have released a sample ballot until the deadline passed.”
Members of the commission are appointed by Gov. Henry McMaster, an ardent backer of President Donald Trump.
Trump and running mate Mike Pence were included on the sample ballots, along with candidates for the Green, Alliance and Libertarian parties.
Chris Whitmire, a spokesman for the Elections Commission,
said the Democratic Party nominees were not featured on the sample ballot up until Thursday afternoon because the Democratic Party had not yet certified its presidential candidates to the SEC.
“Candidates are added to the candidate tracking system and, in turn, to online sample ballots as parties certify the candidates to the SEC and county boards of voter registration and elections,” he said. “The deadline is noon, September 8. The party was well aware that the candidates were not featured on the website, and that we needed the certification letter for that to happen.
“It is unclear why the Democratic Party waited more than two weeks to certify their candidates,” he added.
Whitmire stressed in an email to The Well News that the sample ballot from which Biden and Harris were excluded was not sent out to anyone.
“We never print and send out sample ballots,” explained.
However, the sample ballot could be viewed by voters or anyone else via the scVotes.gov website.
“Most voters don’t look at this until closer to election day, and we don’t begin encouraging voters to look at it until closer to the election,” Whitmire said.
He went on to explain that same ballots are enabled prior to completion of ballot content to meet requirements for military and overseas citizens who may be voting with a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot.
“This is a blank ballot allowed by federal and state law for use only by military and overseas citizens,” he explained. “The online sample ballot provides voters with information about what their ballot content is at the time they view it. Military and overseas voters voting a FWAB need this information to know what their choices are at the time of completing the FWAB.
“While most know the major presidential candidates, the sample ballot, in many cases, is the only way for one of these voters to know about other candidates, local candidates and referendum questions,” he said.”There is a disclaimer on the sample ballot that says sample ballots are made available 100 days prior to a general election, candidates can change, and to check your sample ballot closer to election day.”