Candidates

Our leaders represent what we are as a community, and they hold the power to voice people’s needs and concerns. Here’s information about the candidates wishing to run for a position.

Information contained on this page is for general reference purposes only. Information is current at the time of posting and efforts are made to ensure accuracy of information posted here.  All candidates should be advised to reference applicable federal, state and local laws to ensure specific requirements are met.

Download a one-page instruction sheet for partisan candidate filing.

Nomination by Political Party

All candidates, except President, seeking a political party’s nomination to run in a general or special election must file a Statement of Intention of Candidacy/Party Pledge Form (SICPP) with the appropriate election office (State Election Commission or county board of voter registration and elections) during the appropriate filing period.  Click here for information on Filing for President.

Click here for a one-page instruction sheet for partisan candidate filing.

Candidates must also file a Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) form with the State Ethics Commission.  This must be done electronically on the State Ethics Commission website.  Candidates may also be required to make Campaign Disclosure reports.  Visit the State Ethics Commission website for more information.

Candidates for federal office, statewide office, and solicitor must file with the State Election Commission. Candidates for State Senate and State House of Representatives may file at either the State Election Commission or county board of voter registration and elections in the candidate’s county of residence.  Candidates for countywide office and less-than-countywide office must file with the county board of voter registration and elections in the candidate’s county of residence.

The filing period for the General Election opens at noon on March 16th of the election year and closes at noon on March 30th of the election year.

Names of candidates who fail to file the proper forms during the appropriate filing period will not appear on the ballot.

Candidates who file as a Republican or Democrat must pay a filing fee.  The filing fee is one percent of the annual salary of the office multiplied by the number of years in the term of office or $100, whichever is greater.  This fee is applied to funding the party’s primary.

Filing Fees

The Democratic and Republican parties nominate candidates by primary.  Primaries to nominate candidates for the General Election are held on the second Tuesday in June.  Candidates must receive a majority of votes to be nominated.  If no candidate receives a majority of votes for a particular office, a primary runoff between the top two candidates is held two weeks later.  Primaries and runoffs are conducted by the State and county election commissions.

The Alliance, Constitution, Green, Independence, Labor, Libertarian, United Citizens, and Working Families parties nominate candidates by convention.  Conventions are conducted by the parties.  Contact the appropriate party for more information regarding conventions.

A candidate may be nominated by more than one political party.  Such candidates are commonly referred to as “fusion candidates.”  Click here for information regarding candidates representing more than one party.

Names of candidates who were defeated in a political party primary or convention may not appear on the ensuing general or special election ballot (S.C. Code of Laws Section 7-11-10).

Political Party Contact Information

Special Elections

Special elections are non-scheduled elections held at various times to fill vacancies created by death, resignation or removal from office.

The filing period for special elections opens at noon on the third Friday after the vacancy occurs and closes at noon, 10 days later. Candidates must file with the appropriate county or state election commission.

If necessary, a primary is held on the 11th Tuesday after the vacancy occurs. If necessary, a primary runoff is held on the 13th Tuesday after the vacancy occurs. The special election is held on the 18th Tuesday after the vacancy occurs.

Partisan Municipal Elections

Filing rules for partisan municipal elections vary.  Check with your local party or municipal or county election commission for specific requirements.

Nomination by Petition

To be nominated by petition, a candidate must file a nominating petition containing the valid signatures of at least 5% of the active, registered voters in the geographical area the office represents. The 5% is based on the total number of registered voters in the geographical area 120 days prior to the election. No petition requires more than 10,000 signatures. (Petitions for some local offices may have specific requirements set by state law that are different from the 5% requirement.)

The last date to file a petition for a General Election is 12:00 noon, July 15th of the General Election year. If July 15th falls on a Sunday, the deadline is noon on the following Monday. Generally, there are no filing fees for petition candidates.  However, it is possible for a local jurisdiction, such as a municipality, to require a filing fee in addition to a petition.  Always check with the authority with which you are required to file.

Petition candidates for multi-county offices must file their petitions with the State Election Commission. All petition candidates for State Senate, State House of Representatives, and Solicitor file with the State Election Commission, regardless of whether they are multi-county or not. Other county wide and less than county wide offices file their petitions with their county election commission.

Petition candidates must also file a Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) with the State Ethics Commission.  This must be done electronically on the State Ethics Commission website.  Candidates are also be required to make Campaign Disclosure reports.  Candidates who fail to file Ethics forms properly may face fines, but failure to file Ethics forms does not prevent a candidate’s name from being placed on the ballot or prevent the candidate from winning the election.  Visit the State Ethics Commission website for more information on filing Ethics forms.

The petition must be in a form prescribed in S.C. Code of Laws section 7-11-80.

SAMPLE PETITION (This petition form complies with the specifications prescribed in S.C. Code of Laws Section 7-11-80.  This form must be printed in 8.5″ x 14″ format.  The form is designed so that some information can be entered into form fields before printing.)

Petitions must:

  • Be printed on good quality original bond paper sized 8.5″ x 14″.
  • Contain a concise statement of purpose.
    • In the case of nomination of candidates, the name of the candidate, the office for which he is offering, and the specific election in which he is offering.
    • Statement of purpose must appear on each page.
  • Contain separate columns for voters to enter the following information:
    • Signature and Printed Name of voter
    • Address of residence of voter
    • Precinct of voter
  • Contain only signatures from one county per petition page
  • Have each signature numbered consecutively.
  • Have each page numbered consecutively.

Digitized signatures will be accepted under certain conditions.  Click here for more on the use of digitized signatures.

For more information on nominating petitions see sections 7-11-70, 7-11-80, 7-11-85, and 7-13-351 of the S.C. Code of Laws, available online at www.scstatehouse.gov

Write-in Candidates

There are no filing forms or fees required to run as a write-in candidate.  However, write-in candidates should notify the authority conducting the election in writing that they are conducting a write-in campaign.

Write-in votes are not allowed in political party primaries or for President and Vice-president.

A candidate who was defeated in a political party’s primary may not actively offer or campaign as a write-in candidate for the ensuing election (S.C. Code of Laws Section 7-11-210).

The “write-in” space is always ordered to appear after any candidate names on the ballot.

Candidate names may be written in on voting machine ballots by touching the “write-in” space on the touchscreen.  When the “write-in” space is touched, a “write-in” screen appears featuring a touchscreen keyboard.  The voter types the name of the candidate using the keyboard and presses “accept” when finished.  When accept is touched, the screen returns to the ballot, and the candidate’s name that was entered will appear under the appropriate office.

Candidate names may be written in on paper ballots using a pen or pencil.  The use of stickers or stamps to place the candidate’s name on the ballot is not permitted.  The candidate’s name must be hand-written by the voter or person providing authorized assistance.

Filing Forms

Statement of Intention of Candidacy/Party Pledge Form (SICPP) – For use by candidates who are seeking a political party’s nomination to run in a general or special election.

Statement of Intention of Candidacy Form – Nonpartisan – For use by candidates filing for nonpartisan office.

Petition Form – For use by candidates filing a nominating petition. This petition form complies with the specifications prescribed in S.C. Code of Laws Section 7-11-80.  This form must be printed in 8.5″ x 14″ format.  The form is designed so that some information can be entered into form fields before printing.

Filing Affidavit (Sheriff) – For use by candidates for sheriff.  See S.C. Code of Laws Section 23-11-110.

Filing Affidavit (Coroner) – For use by candidates for coroner.  See S.C. Code of Laws Section 17-5-130.

Statement of Economic Interests and Campaign Disclosure – These forms must be filed online.  Forms, requirements, and filing instructions are available from the State Ethics Commission: http://ethics.sc.gov/.

 

Forms require Adobe Acrobat to view.  Download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.

Filing Fees

Filing fees are paid by candidates seeking the nomination of a party that nominates by primary.  The fees are paid at the time the candidate files for office.  The filing fee for each office is one percent of the total salary for the term of that office or one hundred dollars, whichever amount is greater.  Filing fees are determined using the base salary for the office in January of each election year.  Filing fees are designated by law to offset state costs associated with the conduct of party primaries.  See S.C. Code Section 7-13-40.

Candidates filing with parties that nominate by convention and candidates filing by petition do not pay a filing fee.

Click below to download a list of filing fees for current and previous general election years.

2022 Filing Fees

2020 Filing Fees

2018 Filing Fees

2016 Filing Fees

2014 Filing Fees

2012 Filing Fees

2010 Filing Fees 

Filing for President

Candidates running for President have two options for gaining ballot access in South Carolina:

  1. File with a certified political party to run for that party’s nomination, or
  2. File a nominating petition.

Write-in votes for President of the United States are not allowed by law.

Seeking a Party’s Nomination

  • You must file with the state organization of one of the certified political parties in the state.
  • Some parties may hold Presidential Preference Primaries.  Filing processes, filing fees, and primary dates are set by the party and may differ from party to party and from year to year.
  • For more information, contact the appropriate political party. 

Nomination by Petition

  • The petition must contain the valid signatures of 10,000 active, registered South Carolina voters.
  • The petition must be filed with the State Election Commission not later than noon, July 15, of the General Election year.  If July 15 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, not later than noon the following Monday for access to the November General Election ballot.
  • The petition must be in a form prescribed in S.C. Code of Laws Section 7-11-80.
  • Visit the Nomination by Petition page for more information and a sample petition form.
Filing for Municipal & Other Nonpartisan Offices

Nonpartisan Municipal Elections

Cities and towns conduct their elections at various times throughout the two-year election cycle.

Municipalities set election dates, filing periods, filing fees, candidate qualifications, methods of election, methods of determining results, and other election-related rules by ordinance.  For specific requirements, check with your municipal or county election commission.

Generally, if the municipality uses the filing by statement of intention of candidacy method, the filing deadline is not later than 60 days prior to the date of the election.  If the municipality holds its election at the same time as the statewide general election, the filing deadline will be earlier.  Check locally for specific deadlines.

Statement of Intention of Candidacy – Nonpartisan Form.

Generally, if the municipality uses the filing by petition method, the filing deadline is not later than 75 days prior to election.  If the municipality holds its election at the same time as the statewide general election, the filing deadline will be earlier.  Check locally for specific deadlines.

Petition Information & Form

Nonpartisan Municipal Special Elections

Non-scheduled elections called special elections are held throughout the year to fill vacancies created by death, resignation or removal from office.  Special elections are held on the 13th Tuesday after the vacancy occurs.  Special elections may also be held to conduct referendums.  These election dates may vary and are set by the city or town council.

Filing deadlines and other rules for municipal elections may vary.  For specific requirements, check with your municipal or county election commission.
Generally, if the municipality uses the filing by statement of candidacy method, the filing deadline is not later than noon, 45 days prior to the date of the election.

Generally, if the municipality uses the filing by petition method, the filing deadline is not later than noon, 60 days prior to election.

Partisan Municipal Elections

Filing rules for partisan municipal elections vary.  Check with your local party or municipal or county election commission for specific requirements.
Other Nonpartisan Elections

Elections for school boards, public service districts, and other non-partisan entities are held at various times throughout the two-year election cycle.  Election dates and rules vary.  Check with your county election commission for specific information related to these elections.

Campaign Disclosure and Ethics Filings

Candidates for municipal and nonpartisan offices must electronically file a Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) through the State Ethics Commission website.  Candidates may also be required to make Campaign Disclosure reports.  Visit the State Ethics Commission website for more information.

Candidate Qualifications

No person may be popularly elected to and serve in any office in the State unless he is registered to vote in the geographical area represented by the office (S.C. Constitution, Article VI, Section 1).

A person convicted of a felony or an offense against the election laws is not qualified to file for or hold office, unless it has been fifteen years since the completion of the sentence for the crime or unless the person has been pardoned (S.C. Constitution, Article VI, Section 1).

Candidates must be qualified at the time of the election and not at the time of filing or nomination, unless otherwise provided for by law. Candidates for Senate and House must be a resident of the district at the time of filing.

Qualifications for municipal offices may vary by ordinance.  Check with your municipal or county election commission for specific qualifications.

Some individuals may be restricted from running for public office by the federal Hatch Act.  The Act applies to federal employees and others receiving federal funds and restricts their participation in campaigns for partisan offices.  For detailed information regarding the Hatch Act, visit the website of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.  

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR STATE/FEDERAL OFFICES:

Office Minimum Age State Resident US Citizen Registered Voter Term of Office Consecutive Terms Special Qualifications/Notes
President and Vice President 35 Not Applicable Natural Born Citizen Not Applicable 4 years 2 Must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years
US Senate 30 No time limit 9 years Yes 6 years Indefinite
US House of Representatives 25 No time limit 7 years Yes 2 years Indefinite
Governor 30 5 years 5 years Yes 4 years 2
Lieutenant Governor 30 5 years 5 years Yes 4 years 2
Secretary of State 18 No time limit No time limit Yes 4 years Indefinite
State Treasurer 18 No time limit No time limit Yes 4 years Indefinite
Attorney General 18 No time limit No time limit Yes 4 years Indefinite
Comptroller General 18 No time limit No time limit Yes 4 years Indefinite
State Superintendent of Education 18 No time limit No time limit Yes 4 years Indefinite Must possess the minimum of a master’s degree

Must have experience as detailed in S.C. Code of Laws 59-3-10(b)

Commissioner of Agriculture 18 No time limit No time limit Yes 4 years Indefinite
SC Senate 25 No time limit No time limit Yes 4 years Indefinite Must be a legal resident of the district at the time of filing
SC House of Representatives 21 No time limit No time limit Yes 2 years Indefinite Must be a legal resident of the district at the time of filing
Solicitors 18 No time limit No time limit Yes 4 years Indefinite Must be legal resident of circuit 30 days prior to the election.

Must be licensed to practice law by the S.C. Bar at the time of his election and throughout his term.

 


MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR COUNTY OFFICES:

Office Minimum Age Residency Requirement Registered Voter Term of Office Consecutive Terms Special Qualifications/Notes
Council 18 Must be a resident of the county and/or district at the time of the election Yes 4 or 2 years Indefinite Term is 2 years in Anderson, Edgefield, Orangeburg, & York Counties.
Treasurer 18 Must be a resident of the county at the time of the election Yes 4 years Indefinite Treasurer is appointed in Greenwood & York Counties.
Auditor 18 Must be a resident of the county at the time of the election Yes 4 years Indefinite Auditor is appointed in Greenwood & York Counties.
Clerk of Court 18 Must be a resident of the county at the time of the election Yes 4 years Indefinite
Coroner 21 Must be a resident of the county for at least 1 year immediately preceding the date of the election. Must be a U.S. citizen Yes 4 years Indefinite  *See S.C. Code of Laws Section 17-5-130 for additional qualifications.
Probate Judge 21 Must be a resident of the county at the time of the election Yes 4 years Indefinite S.C. Code of Laws Section 14-23-1040 includes an education/experience requirement for Probate Judge. (Act 678 of 1990) However, the U.S. Department of Justice objected to the requirement, and the act was never precleared and is therefore unenforceable.
Sheriff 21 Must be a resident of the county for at least 1 year immediately preceding the date of the election. Must be a U.S. citizen. Yes 4 years Indefinite See S.C. Code of Laws Section 23-11-110 for additional qualifications.
Register of Deeds 18 Must be a resident of the county at the time of the election Yes 4 years Indefinite
School Board 18 Must be a resident of the county and/or district at the time of the election Yes 4, 3 or 2 years Indefinite Additional qualifications may exist for any particular school board or district.  For specific lengths of terms and qualifications, contact the local school district or the S.C. School Board Association.
Soil & Water Conservation District Commissioner 18 Must be a resident of the county and/or district at the time of the election Yes 4 years Indefinite
Party Order On Ballots

Party order rotates every general election year with the party at the top of the list rotating to the bottom of the list.  The party order remains in effect for all elections held until the next general election (two years).  Newly certified parties start at the bottom of the list and remain at the bottom of the list for at least one general election cycle.

2022 General Election Party Order
(November 8, 2022 – November 4, 2024)

  • Labor
  • Constitution
  • United Citizens
  • Independence
  • Green
  • Republican
  • Alliance
  • Libertarian
  • Petition*
  • Democratic
  • Working Families

*Multiple petition candidates for the same office are listed in alphabetical order using last name.


2024 General Election Party Order
(November 4, 2024 – November 9, 2026)

  • Constitution
  • United Citizens
  • Independence
  • Green
  • Republican
  • Alliance
  • Libertarian
  • Petition*
  • Democratic
  • Working Families
  • Labor

*Multiple petition candidates for the same office are listed in alphabetical order using last name.

Poll Watchers

A poll watcher is someone who is appointed by a candidate or a political party to observe the election day procedures in a precinct. The poll managers of the polling place will designate a place where watchers can remain throughout election day. Conversations between watchers and voters are not permitted within the polling place. Watchers will not be permitted to interfere with the orderly conduct of the election or influence any voter in the casting this ballot.

Qualifications

  • Must be a qualified voter in the county.
  • Present the poll manager with a letter signed by the candidate or by an appropriate party official stating that he/she is certified to act as a watcher in that precinct.
  • Wear a badge specifying the name of the candidate or party he/she represents.
    • The size of the badge must not to exceed 4 ¼” x 4 ¼”.
    • The size of individual letters on the badge must not exceed ¼” x  ¼”.
    • The badge may not be a color that has a fluorescent quality.

Appointment 

  • In a primary, each candidate may appoint one watcher for any polling place where his/her name is on the ballot.
  • In a general or special election, all candidates of the same party are jointly represented at any one voting place by no more than two watchers for each 1000 registered voters at the polling place.  Each non-partisan, petition or announced write-in candidate may appoint one watcher for any polling place where his/her name is on the ballot.
Candidate Dos and Donts

A nickname may be used on the ballot if it does not exceed 15 letters, does not imply professional or social status, is a derivative of your given name properly acquired or bears no relation to your given name but it is used in good faith.

It is permissible for a candidate to be stationed outside the polling place but within the above stated 500 feet area, greet voters and solicit votes, provided there are no complaints by voters to the managers regarding this activity, or as long as in the managers judgment there is no disruption of the orderly election process. Candidates may not display or distribute campaign literature within this 500 foot area.  A candidate may wear a badge no larger than 4 ¼”x 4 ¼” within 500 feet of the entrance to the polling place. This label may contain the candidate’s name and office sought.

The candidate may enter the polling place, but the candidate’s badge must be removed before entering (Section 7-25-180 (b)). A candidate may not actively campaign inside the polling place.  Candidates and poll watchers should be permitted to look at the voter registration list in the polling place, provided that they do not interfere with the orderly conduct of the election and no one is waiting in line to vote.

A candidate or member of a candidate’s paid campaign staff, including volunteers reimbursed for time expended on campaign activity, may not request an absentee ballot application for any person unless that person is a member of their immediate family.

It is unlawful for any person to procure votes in an election by threat, intimidation, coercion, mistreatment, or abuse; or by the payment, delivery, or promise of money or other article of value.

Placing posters on telephone/utility poles may be considered destruction of private property.  Also, the staples and nails left in the poles are very dangerous for the workers who must climb these poles during an emergency. Utility companies ask candidates to not place signs on these poles.

Protests & Appeals

Candidates who wish to protest an election must do so by filing the protest with the appropriate authority prior to applicable deadlines. Protests must be filed in writing, with a copy for each candidate in the race, and must contain each ground concisely stated separately (7-17-30, 7-17-260).

Protests that are not filed with appropriate authorities by applicable deadlines may not be valid. Refer to the S.C. Code of Laws for detailed information on protests and appeals.

Type of Office Deadline to File Protest Where to File Who Hears Protest When Protests are Heard S.C. Code of Laws
Municipal Within 48 hours of closing of polls Chairperson, Municipal Election Commission (MEC).

If municipality has transferred duty to county, then the County Board of Voter Registration and Elections (County Board).

MEC.

If municipality has transferred duty to county, then County Board.

Within 48 hours of filing of protest 5-15-130
Countywide and Less Than Countywide Noon, Wednesday following certification Chairperson, County Board or County Sheriff County Board Monday following the deadline to file protest 7-17-30, 7-17-50
Federal, Statewide, Multi-County, State Senate and State House Noon, 5 days following certification Chairperson, State Election Commission (SEC) or Chief, State Law Enforcement Division SEC Not earlier than the 5th or later than the 25th day following receipt of protest 7-17-260,7-17-270

Party Primaries

Candidates for countywide or less than countywide office:

Protests must be filed with the chair of the county party executive committee not later than noon, Monday following the certification of results.

Candidates federal office, statewide office, State Senate, State House of Representatives, Solicitor, and multi-county offices:

Protests must be filed with the chair of the state party executive committee not later than noon, Monday following the certification of results.

Candidates Representing More Than One Party (Fusion Candidates)

Each of the following requirements must be met for the name of a candidate to be placed on the ballot in a General Election as the nominee of more than one party for the same office:

  • The candidate must file a Statement of Intention of Candidacy/Party Pledge (SICPP) form between noon, March 16th and noon, March 30th with the appropriate election commission for at least one of the parties through which he wishes to gain ballot access.
  • The candidate must file an additional SICPP form with the appropriate election commission for each additional political party through which the candidate wishes to gain access. The additional SICPP form is not required to be filed during the March filing period.  The additional party would then nominate the candidate by convention and certify the candidate to the appropriate election commission by the noon, August 15, deadline for certification of candidates.  Candidates should check with political parties regarding dates and times of party conventions.
  • The candidate must not have been defeated in any primary or convention preceding the election.
  • Each party must certify the candidate to the appropriate election commission by noon, August 15th.
  • The candidate’s name appears on the ballot once for each party nominating the candidate.
  • All votes for the candidate are added together to determine winners.

For more information see S.C. Code of Laws Sections 7-11-10, 7-11-15, 7-11-210, and 7-13-350.

Digitized Signatures on Petitions

“Digitized signatures” will be accepted for verification under certain conditions.  A digitized signature is created using a touchscreen or similar device by which the signor uses his finger or stylus to create a human readable signature that can be checked against signatures on file at county voter registration and election offices.

  • Digitized signatures must include accompanying documentation verifying the identity of the signor and verifying the purpose for which the signor endorsed the petition.  For example, DocuSign software can be used to produce a Certificate of Completion document for each signature which identifies, among other things, the identity of the signor and purpose for which he or she create the digitized signature, i.e., to nominate the candidate for the election.
  • Digitized signatures must be placed on a petition page that meets the form requirements in S.C. Code §7-11-80 (nominating petitions) and any other specific form requirements in state law for the various other types of petitions.  The accompanying verification documentation should be submitted separately.
  • Use of digitized signatures is not without risk.  While digitized signatures will still be compared against a voter’s signature on file like any pen and ink signature, the method of signing on a touchscreen using one’s finger may generate a signature which differs substantially in appearance from one made with a pen.  The petitioner assumes the risk that such differences may render the signature unverifiable.

While digitized signatures will be accepted under the guidelines above, copies of traditional petition pages will NOT be accepted for verification.  Petitioners must submit original petition pages for signatures collected using traditional pen and ink methods.

“Digital signatures” will NOT be accepted.  “Digital signatures” are a unique “hash,” “code” or “digital fingerprint” created using a mathematical algorithm for which the signer has a “key.”  While digital signatures can be used legally for other purposes, the digital signature process does not produce a human-readable signature, created by the signor, that can be verified against traditional signatures on file at county voter registration and elections offices.

Candidate Withdrawals

The purpose of this policy is to set a uniform procedure for candidate withdrawals, to help ensure the integrity of the ballot production process, and to help ensure compliance with federal and state election deadlines.

  • To withdraw, a candidate must submit a statement signed and dated by the candidate that specifies the office for which the candidate was running, the election in which the candidate was running, and must clearly state the candidate’s intention to withdraw.
  • The statement must be submitted to the appropriate authority charged by law with conducting the election.
    • Statements regarding elections for federal, statewide and multi-county offices, including all State Senate and State House of Representatives seats, must be submitted to the State Election Commission.
    • Statements regarding elections for countywide and less-than-countywide offices, excluding State Senate and State House of Representatives seats, must be submitted to the appropriate county board of voter registration and elections or municipal election commission.
  • Candidate names will not be removed from ballots unless the proper election authority receives the statement in a timely manner.
    • The statement must be received by the proper election authority no later than 5:00 PM on the 53rd day before the election.
    • This deadline also applies to deaths, disqualifications and decertifications. Candidate names will not be removed unless the proper election authority receives notification of the death, disqualification or decertification no later than 5:00 PM on the 53rd day before the election.
  • If a candidate submits a withdrawal statement to a political party, the State Election Commission and county boards of voter registration and elections will accept a copy of the statement from the political party.

 

Download the Policy on Candidate Withdrawals (PDF)