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Election Official: Define 'Legitimate'

Any and all Dorchester County's expenses should be picked up by the S.C. Republican Party for January primary, according to an election official.

Tuesday's news that the S.C. Republican Party and state election commission will still has Dorchester County's Election and Voter Registration Executive Director Josh Dickard bristling. 

It's the phrasing regarding expenses that bothers him.

"The Republican Party has agreed to pay all legitimate expenses directly related to the conduct of the Republican PPP," said Chris Whitmire, the director of public information for the state Election Commission, in an email on Tuesday.

"I'm leery about what the term legitimate means and who's going to set that. In my opinion every dollar that we spend out of pocket of taxpayers money has to be reimbursed," Dickard said on Wednesday. "I don't know why there should be limitations."

On Monday, Dickard met with in executive session to discuss the growing unease among . Tuesday's announcement directly addressed those concerns, but hasn't seem to quell them.

What's the big deal? Dorchester County is one of the few counties that goes over the state reimbursements for mandated elections, at an extra expense to its taxpayers slated in the county budget. 

Consolidating polls and paying workers less on election day could mean disenfranchising some voters and having a hard time finding workers willing to work 13-14 hours for $60, Dickard said. 

In 2008, when the state mandated counties pay for the presidential primary, many counties like Dorchester chose to consolidate polling locations, which can lead to voter confusion and voter's going home, Dickard said.

Despite Dickard's concern, Tuesday's announcement said the party would shoulder the costs counties normally pony up during regular elections.

But Dickard said he won't rest easy until he sees what "legitimate" means and exactly what will and will not be reimbursed.

"I don't see it costing the taxpayers that much money but, I told my county council, even $100 of taxpayer money for a private event is $100 too much," Dickard said. "I hope they pay 100 percent of what we have to spend."

From Dickard's account, county council appears to support his position, though he was unsure how council would react to finding out that some expenses would not be covered by the party.

"If 100 percent are not covered, I personally feel … that Dorchester County will join in that lawsuit and ultimately refuse to run the preferential presidential primary," Dickard said, adding that the county would join with the many other concerned counties in the state.

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