[Image courtesy of The Starry Eye]
While political observers were watching South Carolina's Saturday primary for clues about the GOP presidential nomination, I was watching to see how well the state's election machinery would hold up under the pressure of a high-profile vote.
Specifically, I wondered how the state would hold up under a series of developments that had the potential to complicate Election Day:
- + the fiscal wrestling match between county election offices, the state and the Republican Party over funding the primary;
- + the state's new voter ID law - recently blocked by the U.S. Department of Justice but possibly still on the minds of voters and poll workers alike - especially given the likely controversy about "dead voters" on the state voting rolls;
- + a high-profile effort by Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert to mount a campaign for "President of the United States of South Carolina" despite a late entry and the lack of write-in voting; and
- + lingering questions about the state's voting machines stemming from the 2010 Senate election.
Any one of these factors could have been enough to gum up the works, but by the time Saturday night arrived, it was clear that (for now) the Palmetto State's primary was purely a political story and lacked any of the election administration drama that has touched Iowa's caucus or the New Hampshire primary.
Some of this, of course, is a function of the margin; caution (and experience) tell me that it's still early, and there's still time for reports of problems to emerge as the 2012 political circus heads south to Florida. But, for the time being, the women and men who run elections in South Carolina must be breathing a well-earned sigh of relief that the election results - and not the election process - were the big story from Saturday's primary.