South Carolina is “First in the South” to hold a presidential preference primary in 2020. The South Carolina Democratic Presidential Preference Primary was held on February 29, 2020. The South Carolina Republican Party chose not to hold a Presidential Preference Primary this year.

Information about South Carolina Elections

According to Ballotpedia, South Carolina does not allow early voting. It does allow for some people to participate in absentee voting – if they can provide a valid reason they cannot make it to the polls on Election Day.

Some qualifications for absentee voting include:

  • Students attending school outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents residing with them
  • Members of the Armed Forces or Merchant Marine serving outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents residing with them.
  • Persons serving with the American Red Cross or with the United Service Organizations (USO) who are attached to and serving with the Armed Forces outside of their county of residence and their spouses and dependents residing with them
  • Persons who, for reasons of employment, will not be able to vote on Election Day
  • Physically disabled persons
  • Government employees serving outside of residence on Election Day and their spouses and dependents residing with them.
  • Persons with a death or funeral in the family three days before the election
  • Overseas Citizens
  • Persons sixty-five years of age or older
  • And more!

According to Ballotpedia, here is how primaries work in South Carolina:

A primary election is an election in which registered voters select a candidate that they believe should be a political party’s candidate for elected office to run in the general election. They are also used to choose convention delegates and party leaders. Primaries are state-level and local-level elections that take place prior to a general election. South Carolina utilizes an open primary system, in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party’s primary. Voters must take an oath affirming that they have not voted in another party’s primary.


Questionable decisions about the GOP presidential preference primary:

On September 8, 2019, The South Carolina GOP posted a statement titled: “SCGOP Executive Committee Votes To Save Taxpayer Money and Forgo 2020 GOP Presidential Preference Primary”. From the statement:

The South Carolina Republican Party released the following statement regarding the State Executive Committee’s decision today to forgo the 2020 GOP Presidential Preference Primary and save South Carolina taxpayers over $1.2 million.

“As a general rule, when either party has an incumbent President in the White House, there’s no rationale to hold a primary, just as South Carolina Republicans did not hold one in 1984 or 2004, and Democrats did not in 1996 and 2012. With no legitimate primary challenger and President Trump’s record of results, the decision was made to save South Carolina taxpayers over $1.2 million and forgo an unnecessary primary,” said SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick. “President Trump and his administration have delivered for South Carolinans, and we look forward to ensuring that Republican candidates up and down the ballot are elected in 2020.”


On October 1, 2019, The Hill posted an article titled: “Ex-GOP lawmaker sues South Carolina Republican Party for canceling 2020 Primary”. It was written by Morgan Gstatler. From the article:

Former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against South Carolina’s Republican Party over its decision to cancel the state’s GOP presidential primary next year.

In the suit, Inglis and fellow Republican voter Frank Heindel accused the party of violating its own rules as well as state election law…

…The plaintiffs, represented by nonpartisan nonprofit United to Protect Democracy, argued that they have been deprived of their ability to vote for a candidate of their choice in the state’s “famous and (particularly influential) ‘First in the South’ primary.”

“The State Executive Committee has chosen which candidate to support by fiat and in doing so, excluded Republican votes from the process entirely – in violation of the law and its own rules,” they argued…

…The 26-page lawsuit comes after the state’s executive committee last month voted nearly unanimously to forgo a presidential primary in 2020.

South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick, who is also named in the suit, called the primary “unnecessary”…

…Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and former Rep. Joe Walsh (Ill.) are challenging Trump for the GOP nomination.

The decision to cancel the South Carolina GOP primary sparked rebuke from Republicans in the state..

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

On December 11, 2019, FOX Carolina posted an article titled: “Judge upholds SC GOP’s decision not to hold 2020 presidential primary”. From the article:

The South Carolina Republican Party issued a statement Wednesday after a judge upheld the party’s decision not to hold a 2020 presidential primary…

…The judge’s ruling on Wednesday came after former South Carolina congressman Bob Inglis filed a lawsuit against the SCGOP in October claiming the party’s decision deprives him and others “of the ability to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

The lawsuit argued that the party did not have the power to cancel an election on its own and that the party’s decision was in violation of its own 2014 resolution, which called for state Republicans to “treat all campaigns equally” and maintain “public neutrality in the presidential primaries.”

The group Protect Democracy said the case was dismissed on the court’s belief that South Carolina’s law protecting voter participation in the primary does not apply to presidential primaries.

Circuit Judges Jocelyn Newman wrote in her ruling that state law, “does not give Plaintiffs a legal right to a presidential primary, and the Court will not substitute its own judgement for that of the General Assembly or the SCGOP.”…


Paper-Based Voting System

On November 6, 2019, The South Carolina Election Commission posted a press release titled: “Voters Find Easy Transition to New Paper-Based Voting System”. From the press release:

Yesterday, thousands of voters in the more than 180 local elections in 40 counties cast their ballots on South Carolina’s new paper-based voting system. This was the first widespread use of the new system, and the S.C. State Election Commission is pleased to report the transition was a success.

“Election officials across the state have worked tirelessly over the past four months implementing the new system attending training and making preparations,” said Marci Andino, executive director of the State Election Commission. “Yesterday’s successful election is a testament to their hard work. This was a tremendous opportunity for both voters and election officials to make sure we’re ready for the first statewide elections on the new system in 2020.”

Earlier this year, the state of South Carolina announced the award of a contract for a new statewide voting system. The new paper-based system replaced the state’s aging paperless system that had been in place since 2004. The new voting system provides voters with the familiarity of a touchscreen combined with the security of a paper ballot. “The system is more secure than ever, it is accessible to all voters and will serve the citizens of South Carolina for many years to come,” Andino said.

“We were thrilled with the voting process yesterday and credit our poll managers for their time training on the new system and their hard work on election day,” said Katy Smith, director of the Anderson County Board of Voter Registration and Elections and president of the S.C. Association of Registration and Election Officials. “Voters found the new system easy to use, and they liked the combination of the touchscreen and the security that the paper ballot provides.”

The new voting systems were first used in local elections in October in Aiken and York counties. The system will be used statewide for the first time for the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary on February 29, 2020.

Endorsements

On February 21, 2020, The Hill posted an article titled: “Dick Van Dyke endorses Sanders, calls for support from older voters”. It was written by Tal Axelrod. From the article:

Legendary comedian and actor Dick Van Dyke on Friday endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president and urged older voters to back the Vermont lawmaker.

“Why wouldn’t an older citizen vote for somebody with that kind of a record and with that kind of experience and honesty and trust?” Van Dyke, 94, said in a video circulate by Sanders’s campaign. “It just doesn’t make sense to me that he’s not getting my generation. And I want to urge my generation to get out and vote for him, please.”..

…Van Dyke, who also backed Sanders in 2016, said he was endorsing him again because of his consistency in his policies over the years.

“Bernie has been consistent with his policies ever since I first met him when he was in the Senate. He never has changed his attack because of pressure from the outside or when he felt the wind was blowing another way,” he said. “He stuck to who he is and what he believes in. So I think somebody younger, like Bernie, is just a perfect candidate.”…

…While Sanders is set to preform well in Nevada and South Carolina, as well as several Super Tuesday states, polls have shown him lagging among older voters, particularly those over the age of 65. However, he has offset that with strong number with younger voters.

On February 21, 2020, The San Francisco Chronicle endorsed Amy Klobuchar. They posted an editorial titled: “Editorial: Chronicle recommends Amy Klobuchar in the Democratic primary”. From the editorial:

…The 2020 presidential election maybe the last best chance for this nation to course correct. It’s hard to fathom the damage a re-elected Trump would do for another four years.

Any of the major Democratic contenders would reverse the trajectory that has bred so much cynicism at home, and puzzlement abroad among our erstwhile foes and allies. While their differences have been accentuated in a long series of debates and town hall meetings over the past year, the fact of the matter is the remaining candidates share much common ground…

…All but Bloomberg endured a grueling primary season that sifted out some gifted leaders: Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Julián Castro among them. Billionaire Bloomberg skipped most of that vetting, and his shaky performance in his coming-out debate Wednesday exposed his serious vulnerabilities, though Democrats will welcome his near-bottomless checkbook in the general election.

So the choice comes down to which candidate has the experience, the toughness, the sensibility to maintain the party’s base and appeal to independents and disenchanted-with-Trump Republicans in November.

Amy Klobuchar is the one Democrat who checks all the essential boxes. She is seasoned (13 years in the U.S. Senate, lead Democratic sponsor of more than 100 passed bills) with a history of winning Republican strongholds and solid on the party’s baseline issues while pragmatic enough to avoid the promises (free four-year college regardless of income, erasing all college debt) that are easy to make and impossible to fulfill…

Front-runner Sanders has been building a passionate following, but his unbending democratic-socialist agenda and strident tone is likely to all but lock in a polarized nation, leaving the November race a toss-up. Warren has been effective in articulating her wonkish plans in kitchen-table terms and shows more potential than Sanders to pivot toward the center in a general election, but the price tag of her ambitions, (including Medicare for All and free college and forgiving of student debt) may be too much for voters to swallow even if they were politically plausible. And they are not…

…Biden, in his third presidential campaign, has seemed befuddled at times and out of gas at others. Buttigeig, the ascendant star of 2020, has an impressive mastery of the issues and an inspiring message of inclusion. At 38, and having the mayorship of South Bend, Ind., as the high point of his résumé, Buttigeig scores heavier on rhetoric than applicable record. Same with Steyer, a successful businessman, philanthropist and Democratic benefactor whose ability to succeed in the rough-and-tumble of Washington politics is an open question.

Meanwhile, Amy Klobuchar repeatedly has shown under fire in the debates and town halls that she is a listener with a wickedly quick sense of humor that can make her point effectively and with civility. She has the skills to unite the Democratic Party after this nomination fight – no small task – and, if elected president, restore the integrity, discipline, and dignity that the office deserves.

She gets our endorsement in the March 3 primary.

On February 21, 2020, The Seattle Times posted an editorial titled: “Endorsement: Amy Klobuchar for president”. From the editorial:

For Washington state, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar is the best choice to advance to the general election in the crucial effort to unseat President Donald Trump.

She is an effective third-term senator with a strong track record of leading initiatives whether her party was in power or not, working across the aisle when it served her state and the nation. The Minnesotan is no demagogue, titillating voters with political impossibilities like Medicare for All.

Rather, Klobuchar is a pragmatic and authentic progressive who wants to make actual progress on many issues especially important to Washington, such as immigration, climate change and trade…

…Washington and Klobuchar’s home state of Minnesota have much in common, including sophisticated international export relationships. She supported the United States-Korea Trade Agreement, which greatly benefited Washington, and recently voted for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. (Sen. Elizabeth voted for USMCA also. Sanders was among 10 senators who did not.)

A new president could wade back into the economic and diplomatic opportunity missed when Trump canceled the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Revived negotiations could produce higher standards for labor and environmental rules, Klobuchar said in an interview with the editorial board…

…And the daughter of a former newspaperman is an unabashed supporter of the free press, government transparency and the role the U.S. plays as a model for supporting the press around the world. She wants to look at how antitrust laws could help ensure a robust and independent free press providing local news in communities…

…While Klobuchar might seem like a longshot so early in the process, she is a Democrat for whom moderates of both parties and independents can vote. The prospects of early delagate leader Sanders having such broad appeal are not so clear. Buttigieg’s intelligence and military service make him a compelling candidate, but his experience as mayor of a small Indiana city does not give him the foundation for the presidency. Bloomberg, well, he’s got problems – and not just about what he suggested were offensive “jokes”..

…Of the others in the race, Biden would be a formidable candidate in the general election and good for Washington, but Klobuchar has the edge for her recent achievements.

Vote for Amy Klobuchar.

On February 25, 2020, The State endorsed Pete Buttigieg. They posted an editorial titled: “The State endorses Pete Buttigieg in the South Carolina Democratic Party primary”. From the editorial:

The Democratic Party’s presidential nominee will face a formidable general election opponent in Republican President Donald Trump, an incumbent armed with a strong economic record and a force of personality that has spawned a fiercely loyal base of supporters.

It is vital, then, for the Democrats to nominate an energetic, disciplined candidate who can offer voters a powerful yet pragmatic vision of a better America. The Democrats need a nominee who seeks to bring Americans together based on broad common ground – and not divide them along narrow interests.

Among the Democratic presidential candidates, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the best person to meet these challenges.

On Saturday, the voters of South Carolina should choose Buttigieg in the state’s Democratic presidential primary…

…On health care, for example, Buttigeig’s “Medicare for all who want it” plan would offer Americans access to a public option without eliminating the private insurance plans so many citizens now have. In fact, Buttigeig’s proposal could drive down the costs of those plans by promoting competition among private insurers…

…Buttigeig could make history as the first openly gay nominee of a major party, and some wonder whether he could win a solidly red state such as South Carolina. But why is there such skepticism?

The reality is that Buttigeig’s policy centrism is more important than his personal life. Indeed, Buttigeig put it well when he told The State that the American people understand that the 2020 election “is not about my life – its about (their lives). If I have the right answers to how I can make your life better, all of the other stuff fades away.”…

…At this perilous moment in politics, South Carolina voters should be focused on finding a candidate whose policy proposals are a good fit for the state; by that measure, Buttigeig’s aspirational yet realistic plans are the best match for South Carolina…

…On Saturday, South Carolina voters should enthusiastically vote for Buttigeig in the Democratic primary.

On February 26, 2020, The Boston Globe endorsed Bill Weld. He is President Trump’s only Republican opponent in the 2020 election. The Editorial Board of The Boston Globe posted an article titled: “The GOP primaries, Bill Weld would restore principle to the party”. From the article:

For Republicans who still believe in the conservative principles that long defined the Grand Old Party, Donald Trump’s presidency has been a troubling time. He has jettisoned many of the precepts that were integral to Republicanism just a half-decade ago, transforming what once was a party of intellectually coherent ideas into an odd congeries of ill-sorted notions. His exercise of power is impelled not by a careful consideration of the national interest but by the impulses of power preservation and pique, whim and wish, ridicule and revenge.

Fortunately, the primary process provides an outlet for frustrated Republicans who want their party to aspire to more. They can cans a vote for William F. Weld, an astute, able, and affable former prosecutor and Massachusetts governor whose nomination would help restore principle and probity to the GOP…

…Nominating William F. Weld would move the Republican Party from cultish adherence to the person of the president to the traditional tenents of propriety of the office…

…Nominating Weld would also help restore dignity and decency to the national conversation. A personable practitioner of collegial politics, he is able to disagree without being disagreeable. His dry, sly wit would be a welcome tonic to Trump’s tawdry discourse.

A ballot for Weld, then, is a vote both to salvage time-honored conservative principles and to change the shabby tone of the Trump era…

…We urge Republicans to embrace his candidacy in the March 3 primary.

Also on February 26, 2020, The Editorial Board of The Boston Globe endorsed Elizabeth Warren. They posted an article titled: “The Globe endorses Elizabeth Warren”. From the article:

Every Democrat wants to know who can beat Donald Trump. None has a crystal ball, though many remain in pursuit of the elusive mirage that is electability. Despite the undeniable momentum Senator Bernie Sanders has gained in recent weeks, the party’s presidential nominee is in no way a foregone conclusion. Only three states have voted, and 97 percent of delegates are still up for grabs. The time is right to back the best candidate in the race…

…But one candidate stands out as a leader with the qualifications, the track record and the tenacity to defend the principles of democracy, bring fairness to an economy that is excluding too many Americans, and advance a progressive agenda. She would fight the corruption and corporate influence that distort our politics, lift up working families, and combat gun violence and climate change. That candidate is Elizabeth Warren.

Senator Warren sees corruption, including the influence of corporate money in elections and of lobbyists in the legislative process, as the gateway problem that impedes progress on crises plaguing both the country and the planet. The National Rife Association and its lobbyists, for instance, prevent the popular view among citizens – that guns and particularly assault weapons ought to be better regulated – from prevailing as policy reform. The fossil fuel industry has thwarted legislative efforts to address climate change, long a widespread concern and now a priority of a majority of Americans. And health care companies, including pharmaceutical companies, have fought back common-sense policies that would make medicine more affordable.

Senator Warren’s diagnosis of what ails the democratic process is sound, and her pledge to the Globe editorial board, when we posed one of our readers’ questions, is that she would make battling corruption her signature legislative initiative before tackling any other. It is a worthy cause – a root evil worth going to the mat for – in an era of historic dysfunction in Congress..

…In December 2018, this editorial board expressed doubt that Elizabeth Warren should run for president. She has proved us wrong and has shaped the course of the race for the better. The electorate, at least in recent polls and in the early states, is signaling its preference for the profound change that underpins Warren’s agenda. Sanders has been the main beneficiary, but is less likely to deliver; he has shown no ability over the course of his career to build broad legislative coalitions. Warren is uniquely poised to accomplish serious reform without sacrificing what’s working in our economy and innovation ecosystem. She would get under the hood to fix the engine – not drive off a cliff, but also not just kick the tires.

Our senator brings her heart and her head to an election where so much, including the future of our neighborhoods, the justice system, and the planet is at stake. On that score, there can be no doubt: Elizabeth Warren will fight for the integrity of our democracy and for our society’s most vulnerable. Massachusetts – and for that matter, South Carolina and other Super Tuesday states – should give her the chance to keep it.

On February 26, 2020, The Chicago Tribune posted an article titled: “Joe Biden wins endorsement of Rep. Jim Clyburn in South Carolina”. From the article:

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking black member of Congress and the kingmaker of South Carolina’s Democratic political orbit, on Wednesday endorsed Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. The backing could provide a much-needed boost for the former vice president heading into the South Carolina primary.

“I can think of no one better suited, better prepared, I can think of no one with the integrity, no one more committed to the fundamental principles that make this country what it is than my good friend,” said Clyburn, appearing with Biden at an event in North Charleston.

He called on the people of South Carolina to “stand with” Biden.

It had long been expected that Clyburn, the House majority whip, would support Biden. The men were in Congress together for more than a decade, with Clyburn also working closely with the Obama administration in his House leadership roles. Biden was among the presidential hopefuls and political notables who attended two days of funeral and homegoing services last year for Clyburn’s wife, Emily…

On February 26, 2020, The New York Times posted an article titled: “Bill de Blasio Endorses Bernie Sanders”. From the article:

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, whose brief presidential campaign failed to get off the ground last year, endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont for the Democratic nomination on Friday.

In a statement released by the Sanders campaign, Mr. de Blasio said he was supporting Mr. Sanders because he “stands with working families” and was the right candidate to take on President Trump.

“I have called for a bold, progressive agenda, and that’s exactly what Senator Sanders has championed for decades,” Mr. de Blasio said.

His choice is a reversal from four years ago, when he endorsed Hillary Clinton over Mr. Sanders, but it is not entirely unexpected. He said last summer that in retrospect, he believed Mr. Sanders would have won the 2016 election if nominated.

It is also notable that Mr. de Blasio chose to make the endorsement only now, after Sanders’s victory in New Hampshire and strong performance in Iowa have made him a clear front-runner for the nomination…

…Mr. de Blasio’s backing adds to Mr. Sanders’s list of endorsements, which include numerous unions and grass-roots organizations, as well as Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan…

On February 26, 2020, The Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) endorsed Bernie Sanders. They posted a statement titled: “ADA Endorses Bernie Sanders for Democratic Nomination”. From the statement:

“As Americans for Democratic Action, we stand for a liberalism that moves with the times.”

Those words are the opening to Americans for Democratic Action’s founding statement drafted more than 70 years ago by such iconic political figures as Eleanor Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, and Walter Reuther.

Over those 70 plus years, ADA has pushed, pulled, and countless times won on our issues.

However, at this moment, we believe that the culmination of those years of toil are not only most needed but that the times have moved for our liberalism to blossom.

Looking back again to our earliest days, we connect with these words: “Liberalism is a demanding faith. It rests neither on a set of dogmas nor on a blue-print but is rather a spirit which each generation of liberals must learn to apply to the needs of its own time.

This is OUR time and we must not let it pass.

To that end, ADA enthusiastically endorses the candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders to be the Democratic nominee for President.

“For his steadfast leadership and his unwavering support of issues important to ADA, Senator Bernie Sanders has earned our enthusiastic support. From his earliest days in Washington, the Senator has been one of ADA’s closest and most reliable friends,” says ADA Executive Committee Chair Kurt Meyer. “From this point forward, ADA is committed to doing everything possible to ensure that Senator Sanders receives the Democratic Party’s nomination and ultimately is elected President in November.”…

On February 26, 2020, Common Dreams posted an article titled: “‘We Are Not That Stupid’: Rev. Al Sharpton Says Black Voters Won’t Be Fooled by Red-Baiting Attacks on Sanders”. It was written by Jake Johnson. From the article:

Rev. Al Sharpton said Wednesday that black voters in South Carolina, which holds its Democratic presidential primary on Saturday, will not be deceived by red-baiting attacks on Sen. Bernie Sanders because “we’ve been down that road before.”

“The civil rights movement was always targeted by those who would use the Red Scare,” Sharpton said at the South Carolina Ministers’ Breakfast in North Charleston as he introduced the Vermont senator.

Sanders and five other Democratic presidential hopefuls attended the event, which was hosted by the National Action Network.

“They accused Dr. King of being a communist,” Sharpton said. “Every major leader in the 60s they tried to call socialist or communist. Whatever you decide to do on Saturday, do not go by those that use the ‘socialist’ tag to try and separate us from what we need to do for this country… And we are not that stupid to allow you to tell us who is what.”

“Those of us who had to fight for the right to vote need to use that vote in a fair way, fair to those that fought for it,” added Sharpton, pointing to Sanders’ involvement in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. “One of them that came south to fight for that and was arrested was the senator from the state of Vermont, Senator Bernie Sanders.”

On February 28, 2020, the Team Warren twitter account posted a tweet: “No matter where you are, you can help us get out the vote in South Carolina! #SCVotesWarren”.

The tweet included a video of many well known people explaining how you can help. The people included: Lance Bass, Ashley Nicole Black, Yvette Nicole Brown, Representative Deb Haaland, Secretary Julián Castro, Adam Rippon, Ashley Judd, Representative Katie Porter, Ady Barkan, and Jane Fonda.

Controversies

On February 4, 2020, the Post & Courier posted an article titled: “Upstate GOP leaders plotting to impact SC Democratic primary by boosting Bernie Sanders”. It was written by Jamie Lovegrove. From the article:

A group of prominent Upstate Republicans is preparing to launch a wide-scale effort this week to encourage GOP voters across South Carolina to vote for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in the Feb. 29 Democratic primary, The Post and Courier has learned.

The Republican plan to impact the Democratic race, emerging just weeks before the “First in the South” primary, has two goals: Boost the candidate who the Republicans believe presents the weakest general election threat to President Donald Trump, and pressure Democrats to support closing state primaries in the future.

South Carolina has open primaries, meaning voters do not have to register by party and can participate in either party’s contest. But some conservative activists have long pushed to change that, arguing it would ensure a more pure party process, and they are hoping this effort will win over Democrats to that cause.

The S.C. GOP executive committee voted last year to forgo its 2020 presidential primary, so the Democratic election will be the only one held Feb. 29.

Greenville GOP chairman Nate Leupp, Spartanberg GOP chairman Curtis Smith, Anderson GOP chairwoman Cheryl Cuthrell and the leaders of multiple tea party activist groups in the Upstate are behind the efforts to undermine the Democratic race, with other officials still considering joining them…

…In a statement after the initial online publication of this story, S.C. GOP Executive Director Hope Walker made clear that the broader state Republican Party is not involved in the effort.

“We do not like Democrats meddling in our primaries and we certainly do not encourage the same thing from Republican voters,” Walker said.

“While there are some groups and Republican activists that may decide to participate in the open Democratic Presidential Preference Primary on Feb. 29, the South Carolina Republican party has taken no official stand on this matter nor will it encourage our members to do so,” she added..

On February 5, 2020, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson posted a statement titled: “SCDP Chairman Trav Robertson releases statement on potential GOP participating in SC Primary”. From the statement:

Today, Chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party Trav Robertson Jr. released the following statement regarding reporting in the Post & Courier and possible GOP participation in the primary.

“The Republican Party opted not to hold their own primary earlier this year. They decided to tell their constituents that they do not believe in democracy or freedom.

As a state with an open primary system, anyone is free to take part in the democratic process that we champion. This is part of the charm of South Carolina. We welcome any South Carolina voters to participate in our democracy, especially those who are dissatisfied and fed up with Donald Trump’s immorality.

These folks are attempting to cover up the fact that there are moderate Republicans who do not support the immoral president – it’s clear the GOP wants to hide that there are many moderate voters in Greenville who do not support Donald Trump. As a child of the Upstate, I know that the current Republican Party does not represent the spiritual values of those in the Upstate.

However, I would issue a word of caution to GOP voters who think they will sway the election in favor of Donald Trump: do not underestimate the enthusiasm that Democratic candidates can generate. There is nothing that they could do in our primary that will diminish the show of force we will have in the general election.

On February 24, 2020, CNN posted an article titled: “Biden campaign slams Sanders in digital ad ahead of South Carolina primary”. It was written by Sarah Mucha. From the article:

Former Vice President Joe Biden has released a new digital ad in South Carolina slamming Sen. Bernie Sanders, accusing his opponent of attempting to undercut President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012.

The video begins with a montage of anchors announcing Obama’s reelection campaign before a narrator says, “When we rallied together to defend our president and all the progress he made, they had his back,” showing footage of supporters. A photo of Biden appears as the narrator reads, “He had his back,” and more footage of supporters is shown as the narrator continues, “And you had his back.” As a photo of Sanders appears, the narrator says, “But back in Washington there was one guy with another plan.”

The ad comes as Biden tries to use his own ties to Obama — the most popular figure in the Democratic Party — to his advantage and contrast them with Sanders, whose momentum he is trying to stop after a decisive victory Saturday in Nevada.

The ad includes audio from a 2011 radio interview with the senator from Vermont in which he said, “I think it would be a good idea if, uh, President Obama faced some primary opposition.”

“Bernie Sanders was seriously thinking about challenging our first African American president in a primary,” the narrator continues. “The Atlantic reports that Bernie Sanders told fellow senators he’d take on Obama. And Obama’s team was ‘absolutely panicked’. Obama’s campaign manager knew it would be a dangerous threat since ‘every president who has gotten a real primary has lost a general [election].'”

The video ends with the narrator saying: “When it comes to building on President Obama’s legacy, Bernie Sanders just can’t be trusted.”

Asked for comment, Ari Rabin-Havt, Sanders’ deputy campaign director, said: “This never happened. Bernie Sanders never considered a primary challenge to Obama. Bernie was running for reelection in 2012 and that’s what he was focused on.”…

…The one-minute ad, called “Can’t Be Trusted,” is part of a broader $600.000 digital investment in South Carolina by the Biden campaign. It will play on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram…

On February 24, 2020: CBS News posted an article titled: “Reliability of expensive new voting machines called into question.” From the article:

In the rush to replace insecure, unreliable electronic voting machines after Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, state and local officials have scrambled to acquire more trustworthy equipment for this year’s election, when U.S. intelligence agencies fear even worse problems.

But instead of choosing simple, hand-marked paper ballots that are the most resistant to tampering because paper cannot be hacked, many are opting for pricier technology that computer security experts consider almost as risky a earlier discredited electronic systems.

Called ballot-marking devices, the machines have touchscreens for registering voter choice. Unlike touchscreen-only machines, they print out paper records that are scanned by optical readers. South Carolina voters will use them in Saturday’s primary…

…Some of the most popular ballot-marking machines, made by industry leaders Election Systems & Software and Dominion Voting Systems, register votes in bar codes that the human eye cannot decipher. That’s a problem, researchers say: Voters could end up with printout that accurately spell out the names of the candidates they picked, but, because of a hack, the bar codes do not reflect those choices. Because the bar codes are what’s tabulated, voters would never know that their ballots benefited another candidate…

…Even without technical troubles, the new machines can lead to longer lines, potentially reducing turnout. Voters need more time to cast ballots and the machine’s high costs have prompted election officials to limit how many they purchase…

On February 26, 2020, Politico posted an article titled: “Anti-Medicare for All ad campaign launches in South Carolina”. It was written by Holly Otterbein and Maya King. From the article:

A healthcare industry alliance has quietly launched a six-figure ad campaign in South Carolina that appears aimed at thwarting Bernie Sanders’ momentum ahead of Saturday’s primary election.

The Partnership for America’s Healthcare Future (PAHCF), a consortium of pharmaceutical, hospital and health insurance lobbyists, purchased over $200,000 in TV ads to run in Charleston and Columbia media markets Tuesday through Saturday. The ads, which began running during Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, underline the message that Medicare for All, the Medicare buy-in and the public option are costly and ineffective in practice.

“These one-size-fits all government health insurance systems could double everyone’s income taxes,” one ad says, warning that the policy puts more than half the country’s rural healthcare facilities at risk of closing. “Millions of American families could lose their employer provided coverage… you pay more to wait longer for worse care.”

In another ad, a mother warns against “new government-controlled health insurance systems politicians are pushing,” saying “it’s time to build on what’s working and fix what’s broken, not start over.”

The ads join a chorus of opposition among moderate Democrats, who have slammed Medicare for All and Sanders, saying his policy would force citizens to accept an expensive health insurance plan they may not want without the option for keeping their private provider. Pete Buttigeig is running an anti-Medicare for All TV ad in South Carolina this week that criticizes Sanders directly. Amy Klobuchar also purchased healthcare-related ads in Nevada that underlined her plan to lower insurance premiums and criticized her opponents’ plans as a “pipe dream that risks your financial future.”…

…PACHF, whose members include Ascension, Ardent, and the American Senior Alliance, has spent millions of dollars on anti-Medicare for All advertising in early primary states. It shelled out over $1.2 million in Iowa ahead of the caucus and over $900,000 and $150,000 in the Super Tuesday states of Virginia and North Carolina, respectively, according to Advertising Analytics. The organization has also spent an additional several hundred thousand dollars on digital ads with similar messaging…

On February 27, 2020, MSN News posted an article titled: “Obama demands South Carolina TV stations pull misleading ad attacking Biden”. It was written by Michael Scherer and Anu Narayanswamy. From the article:

Former president Barack Obama on Wednesday called on South Carolina television stations to stop running an ad from a Super PAC supporting President Trump that uses Obama’s words out of context in a misleading attack on former vice president Joe Biden.

The Committee to Defend the President, a pro-Trump group, circulated an ad that falsely suggests that words Obama spoke in the narration of his own 1995 book were meant to describe Biden.

The group, which placed a similar amount of anti-Biden advertising in Nevada earlier this month, reported to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday spending more than $250,000 in South Carolina to oppose Biden.

“This despicable ad is straight out of the Republican disinformation playbook, and it’s clearly designed to suppress turnout among minority voters in South Carolina by taking President Obama’s voice out of context and twisting his words to mislead viewers,” Katie Hill, Obama’s communication’s director, said in a statement. “In the interest of truth in advertising, we are calling on TV stations to take this ad down and stop playing into the hands of bad actors who seek to sow division and confusion among the electorate.”

…Late Wednesday, Patchen M. Haggerty, an attorney representing Obama, write the pro-Trump group’s executive director, Chad Banghart, to say the ad’s unauthorized use of Obama’s “name, image, likeness, voice and book passage is clearly intended to mislead the audience of the ad into believing that the passage from the audiobook is a statement that was made by President Obama during his presidency.”

The letter demanded that the group “immediately remove” the ad from public view…

…”Donald Trump and his allies are absolutely terrified that Joe Biden will defeat him in November. Trump even got himself impeached by trying to force another country to lie about the president,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign. “This latest intervention in the Democratic primary is one of the most desperate yet, a despicable torrent of misinformation by the president’s lackeys.”..,

On February 28, 2020, The American Prospect posted an article that supported by the Pulitzer Center titled: “South Carolina Closing Poll Stations Without Notice”. It was written by Brittany Gibson. From the article:

The ‘First in the South’ Democratic primary will not have all of its precinct voting locations open on February 29. Despite the fact that South Carolina has an open primary and any registered voter can participate, the biggest county in the state has closed one-third of its polling locations.

Greenville County closed down 52 precincts; most of those precincts will be consolidated and some will be shifted into temporary locations, but instead of 151 polling locations, Greenville County will have only 118. Across the state, 131 precinct polling places will be relocated…

…This precinct consolidation for the highest-profile 2020 election in South Carolina has not been publicized, however. Instead, the new voting locations for residents is updated on the South Carolina Election Commission website. “They don’t tell people what’s been closed. They’ll tell you where to go,” said Brett Bursey, executive director of the South Carolina Progressive Network. Regular registered voters are unlikely to go online to confirm their polling location before every election…

…Such decisions add to voter confusion in a state that already has nuanced voter laws. The sudden changes can be undertaken because changes to the election system no longer have to be pre-approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. In the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Section 5 of the legislation prevented states with histories of voter suppression and intimidation from making any logistical changes with elections before the DOJ could review them for possible discrimination or unnecessary impediment…

…Consolidated polling stations can cause long lines and multiply the effect of any election-related hiccups, such as technology problems or short staffing…

On February 28, 2020, The Lexington County Democratic Party tweeted: “Lexington County voters, check this list before going to your polling place! We just learned today that a number of precincts have been consolidated for tomorrow’s Democratic Presidential Primary.”

The tweet included a screenshot that started with: “The following precincts will be combined for the February 29th election only:” What followed was a typed list of polling places that have been combined, and the location of each. There was also a handwritten note at the bottom for an additional consolidated polling place location.

On February 29, 2020, the day that South Carolina held its Democratic Presidential Preference primary, the Columbia DSA twitter account tweeted a thread that alerted South Carolina voters in Greenville about polling location changes.

Columbia DSA is the organizing committee for the Columbia SC Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. They posted 52 tweets, each one stating the original location of a polling place, and the location it has been changed to.


Results

The polls closed at 7:00 PM for the 2020 South Carolina Democratic Presidential Preference Primary. As I mentioned earlier in this blog post, the South Carolina Republican Party chose not to hold a primary this year.

Almost immediately after the polls closed, The Associated Press tweeted: “BREAKING: Joe Biden wins South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary. #APracecall at 7:00 p.m. EST. #Election2020 #SCPrimary.”

Shortly after that, CNN tweeted: “BREAKING: Former Vice President Joe Biden will win the South Carolina Democratic Primary, CNN projects. #cnnelection” It included a link to CNN’s liveblog – which had a vote count started (showing 4% of the votes had been counted). The tweet also included a photo of Joe Biden, with “CNN Projects” in tiny letters, and “Joe Biden Wins” in big letters.

Interestingly, the South Carolina Election Commission website has tallied exactly zero votes at the time the CNN and the Associated Press declared Joe Biden the winner. I have no explanation as to why that is so.

Kristen Clarke JD, President and Executive Director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, tweeted: “No matter how good exit polling and other efforts, it’s irresponsible to call an election with 0% of results. Voters have endured enough election fiascos in recent years – wait for meaningful data before calling the race.”

Later, Ryan Nobles, Washington Correspondent for CNN, tweeted: “RIGHT NOW @BernieSanders takes the stage in Virginia Beach. The first time on a 2020 election night where he won’t be able to claim some sort of victory.”

Ryan Nobles also tweeted: “Sanders congratulates @JoeBiden on his win in South Carolina but then makes a quick pivot to the next contest. “Now we are on to Super Tuesday and Virginia!”

The Guardian reported, in their live blog more about what Bernie Sanders said:

…”You cannot win ’em all,” Sanders said. “A lot of states out there, and tonight we did not win in South Carolina.”

The Vermont senator also appeared to be bracing his supporters for a long fight ahead.

“That will not be the only defeat,” Sanders said. “There are a lot of states in this country. Nobody wins them all.”

The Guardian, who gets it’s data from the Associated Press, provided the following information about the vote count with 100% of precincts reporting:

  • Joe Biden: 255,660 votes – 48.45%
  • Bernie Sanders: 105,068 votes – 19.91%
  • Tom Steyer: 59,817 votes – 11.33%
  • Pete Buttigieg: 43,483 votes – 8.24%
  • Elizabeth Warren: 37,285 votes – 7.07%
  • Amy Klobuchar: 16,610 votes – 3.15%
  • Tulsi Gabbard: 6,749 votes – 1.28%
  • Andrew Yang: 1,044 votes – 0.20%
  • Michael Bennet: 748 votes – 0.14%
  • Cory Booker: 643 votes – 0.12%
  • John Delaney: 345 votes – 0.07%
  • Deval Patrick: 273 votes – 0.05%

UPDATE: Bloomberg.com has a Presidential Delegate Tracker. It was updated on February 29, 2020. It shows the total number of delegates earned by all Democratic candidates so far – up through the South Carolina primary.

  • Bernie Sanders: 56
  • Joe Biden: 48
  • Pete Buttigieg: 26
  • Elizabeth Warren: 8
  • Amy Klobuchar: 7

What Happened in the 2020 South Carolina Primary is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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