Less than two weeks left to register to vote

(Photos: Courtesy GOP.org, Democrats.org)

While the national spotlight focuses on upcoming balloting in Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina voters should note they now have less than two weeks to make sure they are registered for the upcoming presidential primary.

South Carolina typically requires voters wishing to participate in the upcoming primaries be registered at least 30 days in advance of casting their ballots. However, since the two major parties have staggered their presidential primaries a week apart – with Republicans voting on Feb. 20 and Democrats voting on Feb. 27 – the South Carolina Election Commission has decided to allow potential voters in both groups until the later Jan. 27 deadline to register.

And while South Carolina has an open primary system that does not require voters to register by party, voters cannot participate in both elections.

Twelve candidates will appear on the Republican ballot in the Palmetto State. They are: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, surgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Texas senator Ted Cruz, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Ohio governor John Kasich, Kentucky senator Rand Paul, Florida senator Marco Rubio, former Pennsyvlania senator Rick Santorum and businessman Donald Trump.

The four Democrats appearing on the South Carolina ballot a week later are former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and businessman Willie Wilson.

Polls for both elections will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on their respective days.

Sumter County residents still looking to register can do so at the Sumter County Voter Registration/Election Commission offices in Room 114 of the Sumter County Courthouse on North Main Street in downtown Sumter, and can contact the office at (803) 436-2310.

Unregistered voters can also obtain a voter registration form here.

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