COLUMBIA -- For voters who are unhappy with the government, there is not a better day for a protest than Tax Day. They'll be able to demonstrate their discontent Thursday from Charleston to Columbia to Washington.

The Charleston tea party is expecting to top the more than 2,500 people who turned out last year for the first anti-tax rally at the U.S. Customhouse. A gathering is planned for 5:30 p.m. on the back steps of the historic building.

Protesters also will rally at 12:30 p.m. outside the Statehouse. Gov. Mark Sanford, a two-term Republican, will address the crowd. The governor is expected to discuss the need for personal liberty in the face of the national political environment.

Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, will deliver the keynote address in Charleston. Other speakers include Mallory Factor, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Fox News contributor, and Ashley Landess, president of the S.C. Policy Council, a conservative think tank.

Joanne Jones, Charleston tea party organizer, said the goal of the movement locally is to educate the public. Most of the membership want to see smaller government and have elected officials use personal and fiscal responsibility.

"That's not just a fuzzy concept," she said. "We would like to remind the government once again: It's our money. We would like to see it spent more responsibly."

Linda Ensor, one of the six original organizers of the Summerville 9/12 group, said members of the group will attend the rallies across the state, and some may even travel to the nation's capitol. The 9/12 group is named for the patriotism that swept the country after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"I think we're having a huge influence," she said. "We are everyday people expressing our opinions."

A Tax Day protest also is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

Reach Yvonne Wenger at 803- 926-7855 or ywenger@postandcourier.com.