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The election is over. Now what?

It may have seemed like the presidential election was the only one taking place last month, but South Carolina voters also elected and re-elected hundreds of council members and mayors. That means the municipal clerk must now check off a list of duties.

  • The municipal election commission or county election commission, depending on which body oversees the returns, must send the city clerk written certification of the election results. Then, the clerk should file the results and certifications permanently.
  • Other election records, such as statements of candidacy, newspaper notices and petitions for nomination of council members and mayor, should be kept by the city for two years.
  • Municipal clerks should ensure each newly elected councilmember takes the two oaths of office required by the South Carolina Constitution and the Code of Laws. Councilmembers and mayors should recite the oath of office found in Article VI, Section 5 of the state Constitution in addition to the oath of office found in Section 5-15-150 of the state Code of Laws. Notaries public and judges are authorized to administer the oath.
  • Neither Code Section 5-15-150 nor the state constitution specifies any particular method for taking the oath, such as placing a hand over a religious text or raising one hand.
  • To preempt legal challenges to a body's actions based on whether the body's members had been officially sworn in, be sure to perform the swearing in and to keep documentation associated with it. Administering the oath publicly would provide additional memorialization of the act in the council minutes.
  • After the newly elected officials are sworn in to office, the clerk should ensure that they sign both oaths, which should be filed and retained for two years, according to the SC General Records Retention Schedules for Municipal Records. However, the Association recommends retaining oaths for at least for the length of each official's current term.

Good practices but not required:

  • Some clerks ask the council to review and enter the results of the election into the minutes. It's not a mandated post-election step, but doing so serves as an additional way to ensure the dissemination and recording of the election results.
  • The clerk should look for other ways to ease the transition of new municipal elected officials from private resident to public servant. This includes orientation. The clerk should give new members the council's rules of procedure, meeting schedule, meeting minutes and procedures for placing an item on the agenda.
  • If municipal elected officials receive city health or retirement benefits and compensation, the appropriate staff member, such as the human resources director, should meet with newly elected officials to review the materials.
  • Newly elected officials should be reminded to electronically file their Statement of Economic Interests before they are sworn in.
  • Because clerks serve as a central point of contact, they should learn how the new councilmembers or mayor prefer to communicate.