Vote Jan. 26, Dems urge

Charleston Democratic Party chief Waring Howe discusses the importance of the Democrat primary.

Party wants record turnout in its presidential vote

Independent-minded voters who still haven't decided if they'll participate in the Republican or Democratic presidential primary have three days to make up their minds.

That's because anyone who votes in the state's Republican primary Saturday can't vote in its Democratic primary a week later.

Charleston County Democratic Party Chairman Waring Howe gathered with other Democrats in Charleston on Wednesday to encourage people to vote Jan. 26.

"The thinking about which primary to vote in needs to happen now or in the next three days," he said.

While voters in this state don't register by party, they can vote only in one primary during any given cycle. (Those who vote in the Democratic presidential primary may vote in the Republican primaries for state and local offices this June, but not in the Republican presidential primary.)

Michelle Cox, chairwoman of Berkeley County's Democratic Party, said she knows a select few voters still weighing both Republican and Democratic candidates.

One unusual aspect of this year's campaign is that both parties have close contests. In most years, one party fields an incumbent or a sitting vice president, making its primary process a bit of a yawn. That's not the case this year.

Howe said voters should consider voting Democratic because recent polls show that race is closer, and Dorchester County Chairman A.J. Glover agreed. "It's anybody's race," he said.

Howe said he wasn't trying to suppress Saturday's GOP vote as much he was trying to ensure that state Democrats break their record for turnout in a primary. "We want everyone to vote," he said.

Both primaries will be run by the State Election Commission, which will maintain a record of GOP voters on Saturday and use that record to prepare its books of registered and eligible voters on Jan. 26.