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Early primary voting for Democrats begins Jan. 22

By Judith Brown and John Clayton

Laurens County, South Carolina – A reshuffling of the political calendar means South Carolina Democrats will be the first in the nation to cast their ballots in the 2024 Democratic Presidential Primary Election.

South Carolina moved ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire on the calendar. The Iowa Caucuses have traditionally been the first stop for both Democrats and Republican hopefuls. The Iowa Republican Caucus took place Monday with former President Donald Trump winning.
The South Carolina Democratic Presidential Preference Primary is set for Saturday, Feb. 3, with early voting starting Monday (Jan. 22) and continuing through Friday, Feb. 2.
Early voting will take place each Monday-Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Voter Registration and Elections office at 105 Bolt Drive in Laurens.
The Democratic National Committee moved South Carolina ahead of both Iowa and New Hampshire on the Primary calendar, saying neither state is representative of its diverse voter base.
“For the first time ever, black voters, rural voters and Southern voters will get to have their voices heard first in this process,” South Carolina Democratic Chair Cristale Spain said at a December press conference in Columbia.
President Joe Biden is seeking the Democratic nomination for his second term in the White House. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have already made campaign visits to South Carolina.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, a South Carolina native, is also stumping in South Carolina ahead of the Primary and is to be in Laurens for a “Pancakes and Politics” event presented by the Laurens County Democratic Party at noon Friday at 112 Hillcrest Drive, Suite A, in Laurens.
The GOP calendar remains the same with South Carolina following both Iowa and New Hampshire in the Primary season.
The South Carolina Republican Presidential Preference Primary is set for Saturday, Feb. 24, with early voting beginning Monday, Feb. 12 and continuing weekdays and Saturday through Thursday, Feb. 22. Times for those early voting days are also from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
When the early voting periods begin, especially Republican voters may see some candidates’ names on their Primary ballots even though they’ve discontinued their campaigns.
“Candidates who suspend their campaigns nationally may withdraw from contention in the S.C. Presidential Primary,” said Lynne West, Board of Voter Registration and Elections of Laurens County director. “If they withdraw early in the ballot creation process, they can be removed from the ballot, but those who withdraw after absentee voting is underway cannot be removed from ballots.”
It requires candidates to contact the State Election Commission to be removed from the ballots, and if the SEC has not been formally made aware in time, those names may remain on the ballots.
“Votes cast for these candidates will be counted and results will be made available to the public,” West said, “But election night results will not show candidates that have withdrawn from contention in the S.C. Presidential Primary.”
While it’s too late for unregistered residents to vote in the Democratic Primary, residents, 18 or older, wishing to vote in the Republican Primary have until Wednesday, Jan. 24, to register, and that can be done online at SCVOTES.gov or by going to the county Registration Office at 105 Bolt Drive office in Laurens.
For voters unable to come to Laurens for early voting and unable to vote at their polling places on primary days, absentee ballots are often the answer as long as they meet the specific criteria, West said.
Voters are welcome to call the office at 864-984-4431 for more information, West said, or go to SCVOTES.gov to find their own voter precinct and status and determine if they qualify to vote absentee.

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