Who can vote in the South Carolina Republican primary election for 2024?

South Carolina allows registered voters — Republicans, Democrats and independents — to participate in any primary of their choosing. But they can only vote in one, not both. Former President Donald Trump railed against South Carolina’s 2024 open GOP primary earlier this month as he sought to convince Republicans that he needed them to show up and vote for him in Saturday’s election. 

“Nikki Haley is pushing Democrats to vote,” Trump alleged during a campaign stop in North Charleston, South Carolina. “Which they shouldn’t be able to do.” 

As Trump maintains his grip on the Republican base, Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations and governor of South Carolina, has looked to independent voters to boost her campaign, making an open primary potentially more beneficial to her than one that allows only registered party members to vote. 

Haley reminded supporters in Sumter, South Carolina, on Monday that it’s an open primary. 

“Anybody can vote in this primary on Saturday as long as you didn’t vote in the Democrat primary,” she said. 

Can registered Democrats vote in the South Carolina primary?

There’s no formal party registration in South Carolina. Registered voters may choose which primary to participate in regardless of whether they identify as Democrats, Republicans or independents. 

Voters who are registered as Democrats may vote in the Republican primary if they did not already cast a ballot in the Democratic primary on Feb. 3. 

Can registered independents vote in the South Carolina primary?

Yes, the primaries are open to all registered South Carolina voters, regardless of party. 

Independent voters who did not participate in the Democratic primary earlier this month are eligible to vote in Saturday’s Republican primary. 

Do you have to be registered to vote to participate in an open primary?

Yes. South Carolina law requires voters to register at least 30 days before an election. Those who want to participate in Saturday’s Republican primary had to register by Jan. 25. 

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What states have open primaries and why? 

States that do not require voters to choose a political party on their voter registration form have open primaries, allowing voters of any affiliation to participate in a primary of any party. 

Presidential primaries in South Carolina and 17 other states have partisan primaries with nonpartisan registration, according to Open Primaries, a nonprofit organization that advocates for open and nonpartisan primary elections. 

The states with partisan primaries and nonpartisan registration are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. 

Another eight states have open partisan primaries with partisan registration that allow only independent or unaffiliated voters to choose which ballot they want. Those states are Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wyoming. 

“Most states that have passed open primaries have done so either through the legislature or at the ballot box,” Jeremy Gruber, the senior vice president of Open Primaries, told CBS News. “Generally, the motivations for opening the primaries are pretty straightforward. They’re a question of fundamental values of fairness and inclusion. 

Gruber said states with open primaries have higher voter participation because they do not exclude independent voters. Nearly half of U.S. adults identify as independent, according to Gallup

“When you exclude the largest group of voters in the country that causes all kinds of problems,” Gruber said. 

Taurean Small and Nidia Cavazos contributed reporting. 

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