The new year will give Union County residents of all political affiliations and beliefs the opportunity to express their opinion on who should be the presidential nominee of the Republican Party.
The Republican Presidential Preference Primary will be held Jan. 21, giving registered voters in South Carolina the chance weigh-in on who they think should be the Republican to challenge President Obama in the Nov. 2012 election. Keith Vanderford, chairman of the Union County Voter Registration and Election Commission, said Tuesday the primary is open to anyone who is registered to vote regardless of their party affiliation.
“We don’t register by party in South Carolina,” Vanderford said. “If you’re registered to vote you're registered to vote in the preference primary.”
Only registered voters can vote in the Jan. 21 election and today is the last day to register. Vanderford said anyone who is not registered and wants to vote in the preference primary must register at the Union County Voter Registrar’s Office, 320 E. Main St., by 5 p.m. this afternoon.
Vanderford said anyone who chooses to vote in the preference primary will still be free to choose to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries in June. While voters will have to choose a party during the June primaries when both parties are fielding candidates for the nominations for local, state and federal office, Vanderford said voters will not have to choose between the parties on Jan. 21 because only Republicans are running.
“Unlike in 2008 when there was a Democrat running, only Republicans are running in the preference primary this year,” Vanderford said. “There are only Republicans running, but anyone can vote in the preference primary.”
The candidates for the GOP presidential nomination are Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. All are listed on the preference primary ballot as is Herman Cain who has dropped out of the race.
The Jan. 21 preference primary will not elect any delegates to the GOP convention which will nominate the party’s 2012 presidential candidate. Vanderford said the Republicans — and the Democrats — will nominate their convention delegates during their party caucuses later this year. He said the Jan. 21 primary is simply an opportunity for voters to express their preference for a particular candidate for the GOP nomination.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m-7 p.m. at all of the county’s 23 precincts and absentee ballots may also be cast in the preference primary.
For more information, call the Union County Voter Registrar’s Office at 429-1616.