GOP Reneges, Won't Cover Primary Costs
Despite promises, GOP pledges only $180,000
The South Carolina Republican Party announced Monday that it would not cover all costs associated with the 2012 presidential primary as previously promised.
Because the counties took the case to court, they also allowed the justices to rule on who should fund the primary. According to Moore, the Court ruled that only the state and county election commissions could be involved in running the primary, and thus the GOP need not supply additional funding.
State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said the commission was not suprised by the GOP's decision to change its position in light of the Supreme Court decision, despite the fact that the state election commission and GOP were on the same side of the lawsuit.
"We, particularly after the hearing, recognized it as a possibility that the party could come back and say, 'Hey, the law says you have to conduct [the primary], so it's your responsibility and we're going to step back,'" Whitmire said.
The Republican Party now plans to provide $180,000 towards the primary, money raised strictly from candidate filing fees.
The General Assembly budgeted $680,000 from the state budget and Whitmire said he expected the election commission to have about $850,000 available for the primary without any GOP help.
But the total cost to run the primary is estimated around $1.5 million, which could leave the state more than $500,000 short of what it needs.
The primary must be held regardless of funding difficulties, Whitmire said, so the election commission is continuing its plans to hold the election while contacting the Budget Office for advice.
Whitmire said the commission could run a deficit or be authorized to use funds from another source, but he did not yet know how the difference in costs would be made up.
Whitmire said the election commission would still reimburse county election commissions for poll managers, absentee postages and other expenses just as in normal elections. But, without the funding from the GOP, some election-related expenses will not be reimbursed to the counties.
"I'm already adjusting our precincts so that with the money I do have I'll be able to pay poll workers," said Dean Crepes, director of the Lexington County Commission of Registration and Elections. "I'm hoping it's not going to cost too much, because I base my turnout on the turnout in 2008 for the Republican side and I added a little bit more."
Lexington County, which did not encounter serious finanicial issues during the 2008 Primary, shouldn't be hurt much by the GOP's decision, Crepes said.
"I'm thinking I'm going to be fine," Crepes said. "I'm hoping that [the GOP's decision] will stir it up and get us a little bit more money, because I can always use another poll worker in the precincts.
"In some of my precincts I do have a large elderly crowd that do a lot of curbside voting, so I hope [the state] will come up with a little more money."
Whitmire said it was a coincidence that the Supreme Court decision meant to benefit the election commission ultimately cost it important funding.
"Our interests is that we want to do what the law requires us to do," Whitmire said. "We want to conduct good elections and give voters the opportunity to participate in fair, impartial and good elections and primaries."