Let state run primaries

A plan in which taxpayers would pick up most of the $2 million tab for South Carolina's presidential primaries next year would help ensure that all voters who want to cast a ballot will get a chance to do so.

That has not always been the case in past primaries, which have been financed by the two respective parties themselves. Party leaders have been criticized and even sued for not opening every precinct in the state, thus disfranchising voters, especially in low-population precincts and those where one party dominates.

But trying to mount a statewide primary with voting machines and poll watchers at every precinct can be daunting, if not impossible, without enough money. Party organizers have to scramble for volunteers, often coming up short of the people needed to man every polling place.

South Carolina has lagged behind the rest of the nation in figuring out that this is an inefficient way to run a primary. It is the only state where political parties were expecting to pay for the presidential primaries next year.

Last month, the state House gave key approval to a Senate bill that would require the state to run and pay for the primaries. With much of the budget process in disarray as the end of the session loomed, the fate of the bill is uncertain.

We hope, however, that it survives, especially with the prominence South Carolina's early Democratic and Republican primaries will have in the 2008 presidential race.

It's high time the state joined the rest of the nation in making sure everyone has a chance to vote in its primaries.

South Carolina is the only state in the nation where parties were expected to pay for primaries in 2008.