The Republican presidential primary will likely move forward as planned after a state Supreme Court decision Tuesday. Four counties– Beaufort, Chester, Greenville, and Spartanburg– had sued to stop the state from running the primary under a new agreement.
For the first time next year, both the South Carolina Elections Commission and the Republican Party will share the cost of running the primary. For years, the political parties ran their own primaries before new electronic balloting requirements increased their costs dramatically. In 2008, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a budget proviso that authorized the Elections Commission to fund both parties’ primaries for the first time.
Under a new agreement reached this year, the commission would use about $680,000 towards the 2012 primary, while the SCGOP would pick up the rest of the tab (expected to be about $800,000). However, the counties argued that there will be costs that are not covered and they questioned why taxpayers were paying for one party’s primary.
However, in a 3-2 decision, the Court sided with the state, saying the Legislature had specifically authorized funding for the primary by passing the proviso. The two dissenting justices argued the Legislature had simply authorized the funding, but did not require it.
GOP officials praised the decision, saying they would have otherwise used paper ballots, rather than electronic machines, if the state was not able to help pay the election’s estimated $1.5 million cost.
Since President Obama is running as an incumbent this year, the Democratic Party is unlikely to hold its own primary.