On January 27, the Greenville County, South Carolina, Republican Party filed its opening brief in the Fourth Circuit. The case is Greenville County Republican Party v Way, 13-2170. The issue is whether the county Republican Party may prevent non-Republicans from voting in its primaries, especially its municipal primaries.
In South Carolina, in cities with partisan city elections, political parties still pay for their own primaries. The party rents the polling places, hires individuals to adminster the election during the hours the polls are open, and pays individuals to count the votes. The party argues vociferously that, therefore, it has a right to limit voters in its primaries to party members. The brief presents evidence that officers of the Democratic Party, and even two state Democratic legislators, have voted in recent Republican primaries. The brief also presents evidence that tens of thousands of voters who voted in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary then voted in the following Republican county and city primaries.
The brief also argues that the state law making it very difficult for the county party to switch to nominating by convention is too restrictive. The state law says that if a state party, or a county party, wants to nominate by convention instead of primary, the resolution authorizing such a change must be approved by 75% of all the delegates to the party convention, whether they are present in the room or not.
Finally, the brief argues that a county political party does have standing to challenge the various election laws governing open primaries, because it is county parties, and also city parties, who administer the primaries for county and city office. The U.S. District Court had dismissed the lawsuit because it felt only a state party has standing to challenge the laws. Originally the state Republican Party had been a co-plaintiff, but during the course of the litigation in U.S. District Court, the state party dropped out of the lawsuit, after a new state chair replaced the former state chair.