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Party registration

Posted: March 8, 2012 11:26 a.m.
Updated: March 9, 2012 5:00 a.m.

If there were evidence of widespread crossover voting in South Carolina primaries -- if Democrats were voting in Republican primaries just to subvert the process, or vice versa -- then it might make sense to require people to register by party before casting ballots in primaries. But there's not, and so there's no real need for a bill that has been introduced in the House of Representatives to close primaries.

As it stands, any registered voter in the state can cast a primary ballot without having to declare a party affiliation. But under the provisions of a bill sponsored by Rep. Garry Smith, a Beaufort Republican, voters would be required to register by party before voting in a primary. The bill has been filed despite the fact that there is no evidence at all that crossover voting is taking place on a wide scale.

One of the things we like about South Carolina's political system is that registration by party isn't required. From year to year, Palmetto State residents can cast ballots for the person they see as the best-qualified candidate, regardless of that person's party affiliation. Doing away with that system would push the state even further toward the polarization that is increasing every year. This is simply a bill that isn't needed.

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