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Two questions on Republican ballot intended to draw out voters

COLUMBIA -- Voters casting ballots in the Republican primary will be asked if South Carolina legislators should fight the new federal health care law and limit state spending.

There's no doubt about the outcome of the "advisory questions" in Tuesday's voting. State GOP leaders expect Republican voters to give a resounding "yes" to both.

State GOP executive director Joel Sawyer said the questions serve two purposes: to prompt action from legislators and increase turnout.

The party wants to "send a very clear message to every Republican elected leader that this is what our electorate wants. They want us to stand against Obamacare and restrain spending," Sawyer said.

It also hopes the questions entice more Republicans to vote in the primary rather than waiting until November, he said.

"We're trying to give added reason to show up primary day," Sawyer said. "The goal is to ID those folks and keep them engaged."

In a state where voters don't register by party, primary voting rolls are a way to gauge which way voters lean politically.

On Thursday, the state GOP and Greenville County Republican Party announced filing a federal lawsuit to force the state Legislature to require voters to register by party before voting in primaries. The litigation won't affect Tuesday's primaries.

One ballot questions asks if the Legislature should make it illegal to force South Carolina residents to buy health insurance or participate in any health care plan against their will. The second asks if the Legislature should pass bills that limit spending growth by linking it to average income increases or gains in population and inflation.

Both parties last asked questions on primary ballots in 1998. That year, Republicans asked whether property taxes on vehicles should be eliminated -- 70 percent said "yes" -- and Democrats gauged support for a state lottery -- 72 percent backed one.

In 1994, Republicans asked three questions, on term limits, taking the Confederate flag off the dome, and eliminating property taxes on homes and businesses.

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