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Counties rebel over presidential primary tab

Sep 26, 2011 7:24:00 PM - thestate.com
S.C. county leaders are in revolt and threatening legal action, saying the state plans to leave them to pick up part of the tab for the Republican Party’s first-in-the-South presidential primary.

The state’s county association said Monday that courts need to decide whether counties or the state even have the legal authority to conduct the primary. “There is no statutory authority for the state Election Commission to order a county election commission to conduct a presidential preference primary,” said Bob Lyons, chief counsel of the S.C. Association of Counties.

State Attorney General Alan Wilson has issued a nonbinding legal opinion saying a law that set up taxpayer funding for the 2008 presidential primary gives the Election Commission authority to run the 2012 primary. But Lyons and local election officials said the opinion doesn’t give authority to run the primary.

S.C. GOP executive director Matt Moore said the party will pick up the county costs and is waiting for the state Election Commission to tally what they’ll be. “We’ve told the Election Commission that we’ll reimburse all costs associated with the primary.”

State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said he expects the primary will cost about $1.3 million. The state has about $680,000 for the primary. It will be up to the GOP to pay for the balance. Whitmire said the money will cover most expenses, including postage, programming machines and hiring poll workers.

USA, South Carolina: (Latest Stories)