Thursday, August 29, 2013
IndependentVoting.org, a national association of independent voters and a defender of South Carolina's open primary system, hailed a federal court judge's ruling in Spartanburg today that the Greenville Republican Party did not have standing to sue to close the South Carolina primaries. In June, the State Republican Party withdrew from the lawsuit leaving the Greenville GOP as the sole plaintiff in the case which has been pending since 2010. IndependentVoting.org and a coalition of defendant/intervenors argued that without the state Republican Party's involvement, the Greenville plaintiffs did not have standing. Judge Mary G. Lewis agreed and granted the motion to dismiss.
Harry Kresky, Esq., who appeared with local counsel Fletcher N. Smith, argued the standing issue on behalf of the intervenors and said, "Today's ruling was a setback for the Greenville faction of the South Carolina Republican Party which hoped to use the court to strengthen its influence in the state party. The voters would have paid a price."
Jacqueline Salit, president of IndependentVoting.org which assembled the defendant/intervenor coalition said, "Political crossfire inside the Republican Party gave rise to this lawsuit but African American and independent voters would have been the big losers if the primaries had been closed as a result."
State Representative Joe Neal, part of the defendant/intervenor coalition added, "Today the South Carolina federal court has upheld the rights of voters in South Carolina, especially the minority community, to free and unfettered access to the polls."
Salit added "The common interest between African American and independent voters is becoming pivotal in the next wave of voting rights struggles in America."
In addition to IndependentVoting.org, the coalition of defendant/intervenors included: thirteen members of the South Carolina Black Legislative Caucus, the South Carolina Independence Party, the Progressive Network, the Constitution Party and the Columbia Tea Party.
"South Carolinians have always been fiercely independent. As an intervenor, I am proud that we stopped the Republican Party from closing our state's primary elections," stated Wayne Griffin chair of the South Carolina Independence Party.