Bluffton residents who want to run for mayor or for two open council seats this fall can file for the races starting at noon Aug. 11.
Candidates have until Sept. 9 to enter the campaign for the Nov. 8 election. Mayoral hopefuls must pay a $150 filing fee; council candidates pay $100.
Mayor Lisa Sulka said she will seek reelection. She has served as mayor nearly three years.
Attempts Tuesday to reach council members Fred Hamilton and Allyne Mitchell, whose seats will be up for grabs, were unsuccessful.
Never miss a local story.
The town's re-created Municipal Election Commission, which has three members recently appointed by Town Council to staggered terms, will certify results and hear any protests.
The revival of the commission, which was dissolved in 2006, is meant to address problems that plagued the 2008 elections. In that race, all four candidates for two council seats contested and appealed the results. Losing candidates Jeff Fulgham and Normand E. "Gus" Thomas said address-coding errors might have prevented some residents from voting and allowed some non-residents to cast ballots.
The Beaufort County Board of Elections and Registration called for a new election after hearing the protests, but the S.C. State Election Commission overturned that decision.
The matter went to the S.C. Supreme Court, which ruled that Beaufort County Circuit Court had the power to call new elections. That was more than a year later, long after first- and second-place finishers Hamilton and Mitchell had been sworn in.
Fulgham said he isn't sure if he will run this year but says people have encouraged him to do so. He said the revived election commission won't make a difference if public officials "don't respect an individual's right to vote."
Sulka said a 2009 race that led to the election of Councilman Mike Raymond went smoothly, "so we've kind of tested the waters on the addresses."
The town also has a good relationship with county elections executive director Scott Marshall, who took his position after the 2008 race, she said.
The county will still provide machines and poll workers on Election Day.
Sulka said elections have changed a lot since she was first elected to council seven years ago with 250 votes. Paper ballots were tallied on a chalkboard at Town Hall then. Four years later, more than 5,000 people voted, she said.
Bluffton elections are nonpartisan, and all candidates are at-large.
Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/BlufftonBlogIP.