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Primaries

Posted: June 18, 2013 10:21 a.m.
Updated: June 19, 2013 5:00 a.m.

The S.C. Republican Party has withdrawn from a federal lawsuit that would close the GOP’s primary only to members of the party. The state organization didn’t do that because it opposes the suit but because it doesn’t want to spend the money. But in reality, it should oppose the suit as a matter of sound policy; trying to accomplish closed primaries in a state in which voters don’t even register by party makes no sense.

Stephen Brown, a Greenville GOP activist and lawyer, said allowing non-party members to vote in a Republican primary would fight dilution by “Democrats, communists and independents” who can now vote in the party’s functions without swearing themselves to be party members. Perhaps he’s been reading too many accounts of the Joseph McCarthy days.

We aren’t sure how Republican Party officials would attempt to enforce such a rule, anyway. Would they require a blood oath? A listing of principles which would be in accord with current party philosophy? A secret handshake, like a college fraternity? The entire idea is bizarre and should be tossed out quickly in federal court. As long as this state doesn’t require registration by party -- and we hope that doesn’t change -- closed primaries are a bad idea. Republicans should be trying to attract more participants, not discourage them.

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