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Beaufort County and three other counties have not decided whether to ask the S.C. Supreme Court to reconsider a decision requiring them to conduct next year's GOP presidential primary.
County officials huddled on a conference call last week with their attorney, Joel Collins of Columbia.
The counties are "still kind of mulling over what we will do," Collins said. They have until Friday to ask the court for a review.
The S.C. Election Commission wants county election boards to conduct the Jan. 21 Republican primary. Beaufort, Greenville, Spartanburg and Chester counties filed a lawsuit in October arguing that there's no legal requirement that they do so.
County officials are also concerned their taxpayers will end up paying part of the cost of what they describe as a private party event.
On Tuesday, justices decided 3-2 against the counties, requiring them to hold the primary. Whether enough money is available to do so is a political question, not a judicial one, wrote Chief Justice Jean Toal in the majority opinion.
Beaufort County elections executive director Scott Marshall said he thinks the decision was politically influenced, and he found the opinion written by two dissenting justices more logical.
"I know I'm biased, but the majority opinion does not seem quite as solid," Marshall said. "And the fact that it was a 3-2 decision leads me to believe there must have been a justice on the fence for a while."
In 2004 and before, political parties ran their own primaries independently of the state.
The clock is ticking as the GOP's Jan. 21 primary date nears, but Marshall said enough time still remains to switch back to that model if an appeal succeeds -- even if the decision comes in mid-December.
If the counties seek reconsideration, Collins said the court could deny the motion or schedule a new set of oral arguments which might result in a different ruling.
"The scope of what they could do on rehearing is very broad. They could completely switch the other way," he said. "That doesn't often happen, needless to say."
Follow reporter Kyle Peterson at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.