State law allows the S.C. Election Commission to run the 2012 S.C.
Republican presidential primary even if Gov. Nikki Haley vetoes sections
of the state budget intended to allow the agency to oversee the vote,
according to an opinion issued Monday by Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Haley has threatened to veto sections of the budget that allow the
Election Commission to use $680,000 in its savings to help pay the
primary's estimated $1.5 million cost. The state budget also would give
the agency the authority to contract with the state party to help run
S.C. GOP chairman Chad Connelly said last week that -- without the
state's electronic voting machines, paid poll workers and other state
oversight -- the party might not be able to host a primary next year,
expected to be held in February or March. Wilson's ruling makes it
clears that a state law approved in 2007, to allow the election
commission to run the 2008 presidential primaries, still applies.
The elections agency had asked Wilson's office if it was allowed to
contract with the state GOP.
"Unless the statute is repealed, or a court concludes otherwise, we
believe the answer to your question is yes," the opinion states. "The
State Election Commission possesses the authority either to conduct the
Presidential Preference Primary itself, or, in the alternative, to
contract with the parties to do so."