Federal Lawsuit Filed In Ballot Controversy
An attorney acting on behalf of S.C. Senate candidate Amanda Somers filed a lawsuit this morning in federal court that challenges the S.C. Supreme Court's decision.
A South Carolina Senate candidate has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Columbia that would set aside this week's S.C. Supreme Court's ruling on the ballot controversy that has hijacked the electoral conversation just weeks ahead of the June primaries.
Todd Kincannon, an attorney acting on behalf of Amanda Somers but including as plaintiffs all candidates improperly left off of ballots, filed a non-jury complaint in U.S. District Court on Friday morning that requested an emergency hearing a temporary restraining order from ballots being issued until the impasse is resolved.
The lawsuit alleges that the S.C. Election Commission, among other things, had violated the Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, and that that the state's high court's ruling would violate the federal Voting Rights Act if followed by kicking candidates off of their ballots as the result of litigation to which they were never legally named a party to.
It also names as defendents the candidates improperly allowed on the ballots, county party chairs and county election commissioners.
The first paragraph of the lawsuit reads:
"This case is one of the strangest cases in the history of American election law. It presents a set of Kafkaesque circumstances so bizarre as to be almost unbelievable. It involves repeated, blatant denials of due process and a systemic failure of election authorities and of a great many candidates to properly and consistently follow the law and their own procedures. Meanwhile, other candidates who did exactly what they were supposed to do are now threatened with ballot exclusion for no better reason than that election officials misled them."
Somers, who has already filed one lawsuit in Lexington County over allowing another candidate to file in her seat weeks after the deadline passed, contends that the South Carolina Election Commission has missed a state-mandated deadline by which it has to send out correct ballots to military and absentee voters.
So, on one hand, the case is about Somers and the Republican Party's decision to put more people on the ballot. And, on the other hand, it's about fighting those candidates who were left off the ballot in other races.
Kincannon sees them in the same light:
"Amanda Somers just wants the law followed, period. And so do I," he said Friday afternoon. "I wouldn't have taken her case otherwise."
State Republican and Democrat parties produced updated candidate lists at the order of the state Supreme Court, which ruled earlier this week that candidates who didn't file financial paperwork at the same time they filed for their candidacy could not stand for election. Somers' candidacy has been certified.
There is no word yet as to whether or not the court will hear Somers' suit, which calls for each candidate whose legitimacy is in question to enjoy due process and have his or her case heard on an individual basis.