South Carolina votes for president | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | February 4, 2016 5:00 pm
Last Updated: February 3, 2016 at 1:41 pm
Republican primary set for February 20;
Democrats will go to the polls on Feb. 27.
By GEORGE SALSBERRY
The bid of 12 Republicans and four Democrats to gain South Carolina’s nod in their presidential bids entered its final month earlier this week, and officials of the Colleton County Voters Registration and Elections Commission are preparing for a busy end to February.
The state’s Republican Presidential Preference Primary will be held February 20. A week later, the voters participating in the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary will go to the polls.
Voters casting a ballot in the Republican primary will choose between Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, John R. Kasich, Rand Paul, Mark Rubio, Rick Santorum and Donald J. Trump.
The Democrat ballot will have voters choosing Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders or Willie Wilson.
Poll results are suggesting a three-man race among South Carolina’s Republicans, with Trump maintaining a large lead over Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
In Monday’s Iowa caucus Ted Cruz lead the polling with Trump second and Rubio a close third. Immediately after the Iowa numbers were counted, Huckabee dropped out of the presidential race.
On the Democratic side, polls predict a two-person race with Clinton maintaining a more than two-to-one lead over Sanders in South Carolina.
In Iowa, Clinton and Sanders finished in a virtual dead heat. O’Malley decided to end his bid for the presidency after the Iowa results were released.
Colleton County Voter Registration and Election Director Angela Upchurch said as the county entered the final month of campaigning, her office has not seen a large number of voters visiting the election office to cast absentee ballots in either primary.
Upchurch said that the office has seen a change in how people are requesting mailed absentee ballots. “So far this year, more people are going online to request absentee ballots instead of calling,” Upchurch said.
Move voters are realizing, she said, that they can go online at www.scvotes.org and get that information there.”
Upchurch said the election office will be open Saturday, Feb. 13 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for absentee voting in both presidential primaries. A picture I.D. is required as well as a reason for voting absentee. Reasons for voting absentee can be found at www.scvotes.org.
Upchurch added that the two presidential preference primaries mark the first time that the voters in all the county’s realigned voting precincts will be going to the polls. “All 32 precincts will be open,” Upchurch said.
In order to ease the transition, she said, her office will have signs installed at all the former polling places, alerting residents where they now cast their ballots.
Upchurch said all the registered voters moved into other precincts or assigned new polling places were mailed new voter registration cards.
Several hundred new cards were returned by the post office marked as undeliverable. “That is normal, unfortunately,” Upchurch said.
The list of all the county’s polling places accompanies this article.
Upchurch stresses that voters will have to decide if they wish to vote in the Republican or Democratic primary. They cannot vote in both. She anticipates that the fact that the primaries will be held on successive Saturdays will cause some confusion.
Upchurch said that poll workers will use the same voter registration lists for both elections. If a voter cast a ballot in the Republican primary, and then shows up to vote again in the Democratic contest, poll workers should be able to use the list to ensure a second ballot is not cast.
The last week of February is going to be busy for the election office. As soon as the results of the Republican primary on Feb. 20 have been audited, Upchurch said, she will begin reprogramming all the county’s electronic voting machines to load the Democratic ballots. “Luckily, we are not one of the huge counties,” Upchurch said.
Upchurch said that one of the legislative initiatives the South Carolina Election Commission is seeking during this term of the state legislature is to have future presidential primaries held on the same day.