Grassroots group of Republicans say they are protesting open primaries by voting in Saturday’s primary

Published: Feb. 26, 2020 at 7:39 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Cole Kazmarski and thousands of other voters in South Carolina will be casting their ballots in the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary on Saturday.

Kazmarski is the Vice Chair for the Midlands Republican Liberty Caucus. "This coming Saturday I plan to vote for Bernie," she said.

Kazmarski is taking part in Operation Chaos 2020. Some conservative Republicans in South Carolina are protesting open primaries in the Palmetto State by voting on Saturday. "The only thing you have to lose is you get on their mailing list and they spend a little ad money on you in the future."

Pressley Stutts is the Chairman of the Greenville Tea Party. He is urging fellow Republicans to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders in Saturday's primary. "We are open and proud about it," he said.

Stutts said if Sen. Sanders were to become the Democratic nominee, he believes President Donald Trump would have an easier path to reelection.

According to Stutts, their goal is to get South Carolina to switch to closed primaries. He said, "Primaries are a selection process. It's not until November we actually have an election. There's a difference between the selection process which should be done by the Republicans and the Democrats."

Over at the State House today, the discussion of closing primaries took center stage. A Senate Judiciary Subcommittee took up two pieces of legislation that would change primaries in the state.

Some Democrats said this type of malicious voting that Stutts and Kazmarski are taking a part in is wrong. Sen. Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston) filed a piece of legislation that would require anyone voting in this year's primary to vote in the 2024 Democratic primary.

Sen. Kimpson said, "It is wrong for the opposition party to conspire to hijack an election."

That legislation was sent to the full Senate Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers moved forward with another bill, filed by Sen. Rex Rice (R-Pickens), that would close primaries permanently in the state.

Lynn Teague with the South Carolina League of Women Voters said they are opposed to closing primaries. She said closed primaries disenfranchise voters, especially independent voters.

"There are many noncompetitive elections in South Carolina. By the time you have a primary the decision is already made," Teauge said.

The bill filed by Sen. Rice would let voters change party affiliations up to 60 days before an election.

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