PICKENS COUNTY — Known as “first in the South,” the South Carolina primaries for the 2016 Presidential race begin with the Republican primary this weekend — Feb. 20 — followed by the Democratic primary the following Saturday.
So, what is a primary?
Essentially, a primary is a state-level election where party members vote to choose a candidate affiliated with their political party. Party candidates that are selected in a primary then run against each other in the general election.
South Carolina participates in an “open primary,” meaning any registered voter can cast a ballot, no matter their political affiliation. In other words, you don’t have to be a registered Republican to vote in the Republican primary. The same goes for Democrats.
Nineteen states, including South Carolina, hold open presidential primaries. An open primary does, however, have its upsides and downsides.
While some argue that it encourages greater voter participation, others balk at the practice as it allows for “outsiders” to help determine — even manipulate — the opposing party’s nominee.
According to exit polls in 2008, Mike Huckabee actually won among registered Republicans in South Carolina but John McCain ended up taking the state as Democrats, Independents and other non-affiliated voters cast their ballots for McCain in the Republican primary, a practice known as “party crashing.”
For Pickens County residents, all you need to vote in the upcoming primary elections is to be a registered voter and have a valid photo ID. Examples include a SC drivers license, passport, military ID, or a state ID card.
According to the Pickens County Board of Elections, if you are not registered to vote, it’s not too late. Same day voter registration is permitted for both the Republican and Democratic primaries.
For more information or to register to vote online, visit www.pickenselections.org.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.