/ SECTION 1. Chapter 11, Title 7 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 7-11-12. (A) Prior to the beginning of filing for the 2014 General election, the State Ethics Commission and the State Election Commission must provide for a system of electronic filing of statements of intention of candidacy that applies to every person filing for public office.
(B) The electronic statement of intention of candidacy must:
(1) provide a method for the person to enter all the information necessary to demonstrate that the candidate meets the required qualifications for office and to electronically endorse an affirmation that the candidate meets, or will meet the qualifications by the time of the general election;
(2) include a method for the person to designate the candidate's party affiliation and electronically endorse the party pledge required by Section 7-11-210, if the candidate is seeking nomination by political party primary or political party convention; and
(3) provide a method for the person to enter all the information required by the statement of economic interest pursuant to Section 8-13-1110. A person required to file an updated statement of economic interest pursuant to Section 8-13-1140 will be deemed to have satisfied the requirements of that section by filing an electronic statement of intention of candidacy during a filing period that closes prior to April 15th.
(B) The system of electronic filing must also provide a means for the person to pay the required filing fee online prior to submitting the candidate's statement of intention of candidacy. The methods of payment must include payment by credit card, debit card, and electronic bank account draft. The filing fees must be automatically deposited in a special account designated for use by the State Election Commission to conduct primary elections and must be used for that purpose.
(C) A person must complete the filing required by this section:
(1) prior to the close of the any filing period established in this title for a person seeking nomination by political party primary or political party convention;
(2) prior to submitting a petition for nomination pursuant to Section 7-11-70 or 7-11-71;
(3) prior to the close of the filing period for a nonpartisan office;
(3) for a write-in candidate, within twenty-four hours of filing an initial campaign finance report pursuant to Section 8-13-1308(A) or prior to taking the oath of office, whichever is sooner;
(4) prior to any other filing period established by law for the particular office sought.
(D) The commissions must provide for the filing of the electronic statement of intention of candidacy on the State Ethics Commission's website, but the State Election Commission must provide a link in a conspicuous place on its website that directs a person to the place on the State Ethic Commission's website where the person may file. The State Election Commission and the county election commissions must have real time access to the filings for offices over which the respective commissions' have jurisdiction. The State Ethics Commission must make the information required to be filed by this section publicly accessible, searchable, and transferable in the same manner as other disclosures and reports filed pursuant to Section 8-13-365.
(E) At the close of any filing period for persons seeking nomination by political party primary or political party convention, the State Ethics Commission must transmit the electronic filings to the appropriate political party executive committee for certification required by Sections 7-13-40 and 7-13-350, as applicable. The party executive committee shall not refuse to certify a person for any error or omission in the electronic filing required by this section that does not directly relate to a constitutional or statutory qualification.
(F) Beginning with the 2014 General Election, the method of electronic filing of statements of intention of candidacy and the payment of filing fees established pursuant to this section supersedes any other method required or provided by law. This section does not supersede any filing periods or deadlines provided by law and a person seeking a particular office must comply with the filing requirements provided by this section prior to close of the filing period or deadline established for the particular office.
(G) Any electronic endorsement or affirmation required by this section is as binding and carries the same force and effect of law as a physical signature."
SECTION 2. Section 7-11-15 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 7-11-15. Beginning with the 2014 General Election, in order to qualify as a candidate to run in the general election, all candidates seeking nomination by political party primary or political party convention must file a statement of intention of candidacy as provided in Section 7-11-12 between noon on March sixteenth and noon on March thirtieth.
(1) Candidates seeking nomination for a statewide, congressional, or district office that includes more than one county must file their statements of intention of candidacy with the state executive committee of their respective party.
(2) Candidates seeking nomination for the State Senate or House of Representatives must file their statements of intention of candidacy with the county executive committee of their respective party in the county of their residence. The county committees must, within five days of the receipt of the statements, transmit the statements along with the applicable filing fees to the respective state executive committees. However, the county committees must report all filings to the state committees no later than five p.m. on March thirtieth. The state executive committees must certify candidates pursuant to Section 7-13-40.
(3) Candidates seeking nomination for a countywide or less than countywide office shall file their statements of intention of candidacy with the county executive committee of their respective party.
Except as provided herein, the county executive committee of any political party with whom statements of intention of candidacy are filed must file, in turn, all statements of intention of candidacy with the county election commission by noon on the tenth day following the deadline for filing statements by candidates. If the tenth day falls on Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday, the statements must be filed by noon the following day. The state executive committee of any political party with whom statements of intention of candidacy are filed must file, in turn, all the statements of intention of candidacy with the State Election Commission by noon on the tenth day following the deadline for filing statements by candidates. If the tenth day falls on Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday, the statements must be filed by noon the following day. No candidate's name may appear on a primary election ballot, convention slate of candidates, general election ballot, or special election ballot, except as otherwise provided by law, if (1) the candidate's statement of intention of candidacy has not been filed pursuant to Section 7-11-12 with the County Election Commission or State Election Commission, as the case may be, by the deadline and (2) the candidate has not been certified by the appropriate political party as required by Sections 7-13-40 and 7-13-350, as applicable. The candidate's name must appear if the candidate produces the signed and dated copy of his timely filed a statement of intention of candidacy pursuant to Section 7-11-12.
The statement of intention of candidacy required in this section and in Section 7-13-190(B) must conform to the requirements of Section 7-11-12
be on a form designed and provided by the State Election Commission. This form, in addition to all other information, must contain an affirmation that the candidate meets, or will meet by the time of the general election, or as otherwise required by law, the qualifications for the office sought and must be electronically endorsed in the manner provided by Section 7-11-12. It must be filed in triplicate by the candidate, and the political party committee with whom it is filed must stamp it with the date and time received, sign it, keep one copy, return one copy to the candidate, and send one copy to either the county election commission or the State Election Commission, as the case may be.
If, after the closing of the time for filing statements of intention of candidacy, there are not more than two candidates for any one office and one or more of the candidates dies, or withdraws, the state or county committee, as the case may be, if the nomination is by political party primary or political party convention only may, in its discretion, afford opportunity for the entry of other candidates for the office involved; however, for the office of State House of Representatives or State Senator, the discretion must be exercised by the state committee.
The provisions of this section do not apply to nonpartisan school trustee elections in any school district where local law provisions provide for other dates and procedures for filing statements of candidacy or petitions, and to the extent the provisions of this section and the local law provisions conflict, the local law provisions control.
SECTION 3. Sections 7-11-45 and 8-13-1356 are repealed effective March 1, 2014.
SECTION 4. In order to educate various parties regarding the provisions contained in this act, the following notifications must be made:
(1) The State Election Commission must notify each county election commission of the provisions of this act.
(2) The State Election Commission must post the provisions of this act on its website.
(3) Each state party executive committee must notify their respective county executive parties of the provisions of this act.
SECTION 5. The General Assembly finds that all the provisions contained in this act relate to one subject as required by Section 17, Article III of the South Carolina Constitution in that each provision relates directly to or in conjunction with other sections to the subject of election reform as stated in the title. The General Assembly further finds that a common purpose or relationship exists among the sections, representing a potential plurality but not disunity of topics, notwithstanding that reasonable minds might differ in identifying more than one topic contained in this act.
SECTION 6. The provisions of this act are severable. If any section, subsection, paragraph, subparagraph, item, subitem, sentence, clause, phrase, or word of this act is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, such holding shall not affect the constitutionality or validity of the remaining portions of the act, the General Assembly hereby declaring that it would have passed each and every section, subsection, paragraph, subparagraph, item, subitem, sentence, clause, phrase, and word thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more other sections, subsections, paragraphs, subparagraphs, items, subitems, sentences, clauses, phrases, or words hereof may be declared to be unconstitutional, invalid, or otherwise ineffective.
SECTION 7. This act takes effect upon preclearance approval by the United States Department of Justice or approval by a declaratory judgment issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, whichever occurs first.
Renumber sections to conform.
Amend title to conform.