Lawmakers considering change to S.C.’s open primaries

VIDEO: Lawmakers considering change to S.C.’s open primaries

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina is one of 15 states that has open primaries, which means voters do not have to be affiliated with a certain party to vote in any party’s primary.

But there has been a recent push to change that.

Over the last few weeks, different groups of Republican voters have come out saying they will be cross-voting in Saturday’s Democratic presidential primary.

A panel of state senators moved forward Wednesday with legislation that would close primaries.

Cole Kazmarski will be voting in Saturday’s primary.

“We have nothing to do this primary so why no play with them a little bit,” he said.

Kazmarski is taking part in “Operation Chaos 2020.” Some South Carolina Republicans are protesting open elections in the Palmetto State by casting a ballot Saturday.

They are urging fellow Republicans to vote for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Saturday’s Democratic Primary. They believe that if Sanders were to become the party’s nominee, President Donald Trump would have an easier path to re-election.

“Primaries are a selection process. It’s not until November we actually have an election,” Greenville Tea Party Chairman Pressley Stutts said. “There’s a difference between the selection process which should be done by the Republicans and the Democrats.”

The South Carolina Republican Party voted last year to skip holding a GOP Primary in the state this year.

At the State House, this has led to discussions of closing primaries. Some Democrats say this type of malicious voting is wrong.

Sen. Marlon Kimpson of Charleston County filed a piece of legislation that would require anyone voting in this year’s primary to vote in the 2024 Democratic primary.

“It is wrong for the opposition party to conspire to hijack an election,” Kimpson said.

That measure was sent to the full Senate Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers moved forward with a bill that would close primaries.

The League of Women Voters says they are opposed to closing primaries since they say it disenfranchises voters, especially independent voters.

“There are many noncompetitive elections,” group spokesperson Lynn Teague said. “By the time you have a primary, the decision is already made.”

Under the bill filed by Rep. Rex Rice of Pickens County, voters would be able to change political affiliations up to 60 days before an election.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. All rights reserved.