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In South Carolina, Some Parties Are More Equal Than Others

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

I know what you are thinking; how can something be more equal than something else? It is a good question because that would be impossible. If two things are equal, the value of neither can be greater nor lesser than the other -- they have the same value.  Equal protection under the law, for instance, should mean that everyone has the same protections under the law and that it neither favors nor discriminates against one group over another. The law treats every citizen of the state equally -- or should.

Equal access to the ballot means that the requirements dictating how a party obtains eligibility to be on an election ballot should apply to all parties -- major or minor. Yet, as reported by, there seems to be some confusion over the word 'equal' in South Carolina, because some parties apparently are more equal than others in the state.

The Equal Access to the Ballot Act (S.2) requires parties that want to nominate candidates at a party convention to put the question on the June primary ballot. There is only one problem with this: minor parties, like the Libertarian Party, are denied access to primary elections. They need to be allowed to participate in these elections in order to be able to nominate their candidates by convention, and yet they can't.

Something to keep in mind is that all taxpayers contribute to the funding of open partisan primaries equally -- state law requires it -- and yet not all voters, candidates, and parties are treated equally. Not all parties are given equal consideration by the South Carolina State Election Commission (SCSEC) either.

The chairman of the South Carolina Libertarian Party, Michael Carmany, received this letter from the SCSEC:

“The South Carolina State Election Commission does not have the time required to update the voter registration and election management system or the considerable financial resources to make the changes necessary to accommodate your request for 2014.”

So, how exactly is the Libertarian Party supposed to comply with the Equal Access to the Ballot Act if the state will not allow it to participate in the June elections? It can't unless they get permission from opposing political parties, something that is not likely to happen. Yet, the state refuses to enforce its own law.

“They are breaking the law," Carmany told's Joshua Cook. "Our tax money is being used to spend on the Republicans and Democrats, but they don’t want to spend it on any other parties.”

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