With just a few days left until the South Carolina presidential primary, candidates have been busy campaigning in Aiken County with hopes of getting a step closer to the Republican nomination.
The primary, which is Saturday, comes on the heels of the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. Most of the candidates have visited the county at least once in 2012. That shows candidates realize how politically involved people in Aiken County traditionally are, said Dennis Saylor, the chairman of the Aiken County Republican Party.
“We are the fifth-largest county in the state. In the 2008 process, we had a 22 percent voter turnout, which is huge when you look at the comparison nationwide,” he said. “I would love to get close to 30 percent.”
Noting the turnout in 2008, he said that encouraging people to get out and vote is at the forefront of the group’s activities.
“We got to emphasize voter turnout,” he said. “The reality is that the person who gets the most votes wins.”
The Aiken County Repub-lican Party has been busy keeping people informed of events and appearances the candidates have scheduled in the area to help voters make informed decisions, he said.
It held a forum Tuesday for candidates to give a last pitch to voters before the primary. The organization is also encouraging people to continue to do their own research in the days leading up to the primary, he said.
The biggest issues on the minds of voters in Aiken County are the economy and jobs, reflecting voters across the country, said Saylor.
“Everywhere I’ve been, when the candidates have opened the floor for questions, they (people) are wondering what they are going to do about the economy and about the market, to make it more business-friendly,” he said.
Cynthia Holland, the director of the Aiken County Registration and Elections office, said she expects a turnout of between 20 percent and 30 percent Saturday.
The number of people coming into the office for absentee voting has steadily increased over the past two weeks, she said. People can vote absentee today and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
While she expects things to go smoothly this election, the biggest change voters can expect will be in where they vote, said Holland.
“We had to combine a few of the precincts. That’s something different that we’ve had to do in this election,” she said. “Some of the polling locations aren’t available, so we have to use the ones that are.”
On Saturday, Belvedere 62 will vote with Belvedere 74 at the Belvedere Fire Department, 204 Hampton Ave., Belvedere; Belvedere 44 will vote with Belvedere 9 at Nancy Carson Library, 135 Edgefield Road, North Augusta; Gem Lakes 60 will vote with Anderson Pond 69 at Carver Chase; South Aiken 75 will vote with South Aiken 76 at Public Station 5; and Cedar Creek 64 will vote with Hollow Creek 53 and College Acres 13 at South Aiken Church of God.
Those who have questions regarding where they should vote can call (803) 642-2028 or visit aikencountysc.gov. Results from the primary can be found Saturday night at SCVotes.org.