Time running out for SC voters to register ahead of primary election

Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina is on Feb. 29
Updated: Jan. 29, 2020 at 1:22 PM EST
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York County, SC (WBTV) - South Carolina voters have just one more day to register to vote if they want to take part in the presidential primary election on February 29th.

Potential voters have until 5 p.m. Thursday in-person or until 11:59 p.m. online to register to be eligible to vote in the upcoming Democratic presidential primary.

Wanda Hemphill, Director of Voter Registration and Elections in York County, says they have seen a consistent flow of people coming in to get registered.

“We’ve seen a steady flow as far as walk-ins to the office,” said Hemphill. “We’ve also seen an increase in voter registrations as far as online and through third-party agencies.”

The South Carolina Election Commission says well over 80 percent of the state’s voting age population is already registered to vote, something they believe has gone up since the state opened up online registrations back in 2012.

Hemphill also noted South Carolina voters do not register by party, so while the upcoming primary is for the democratic candidates for president, it’s open to all voters.

“When you register to vote you don’t have to declare as a Republican or a Democrat or Independent,” said Hemphill. “So when the person goes to the poll, they can participate in the Democratic preference primary even though perhaps 4 years ago they participated in the Republican preference primary.”

Hemphill says they do keep records of which primary a person voted in, but they will not know which candidates you selected on your ballot. Voters would typically have to choose between voting in the Republican or Democratic primary, but the South Carolina GOP voted to cancel its primary back in September saying that, “South Carolina Republicans overwhelmingly support President Trump.”

It’s also important to note if you’re 17, but will be 18 by November’s general election, you can register to vote now.

“They could participate in the presidential preference primary, the June primaries and then in the general election because those elections are extensions of the general election, and that’s why they can register to vote at 17,” said Hemphill.

If for some reason you can’t make it to vote on the day of the primary election on Saturday, February 29th, you can vote absentee in person or by mail if you have a qualifying reason. In-person absentee voting starts at the government center in York on Thursday. All county elections offices are required to open up in-person absentee voting 30 days prior to an election.

If you recently moved and are not sure if your registration is updated, you can check your registration here.

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