State lawmakers are warning that another flawed election law could make the debacle of 2012 that knocked hundreds of candidates out of primaries seem tame by comparison. Sen. Larry Martin of Pickens, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the Senate on Wednesday that the office of state Attorney General Alan Wilson has issued an opinion concluding that a 2008 law under which most of the state’s counties combined election and voter registration boards is unconstitutional. The reason, state Solicitor General Robert Cook explained in the opinion, is that under the state’s Constitution, the Legislature is prohibited from passing laws that are customized for certain parts of the state but not others. “Act No. 312 is simply an amalgam of laws, each for a particular county,” Cook wrote.
“While the act addresses all 46 counties … the effect is a different result in each county. Certain counties have combined the boards of election and voter registration; yet, the act expressly recognizes others do not. Thus, while the act may appear general, it is far from uniform, but is instead a collective hodgepodge of local laws.”
Cook concluded, “Based upon the foregoing, we believe a court would likely conclude that Act No. 312 unconstitutionally violates … the South Carolina Constitution.”
Martin said lawmakers over the years have passed laws geared for individual counties to combine voter registration and election offices and that those laws were codified in 2008.