South Carolina is holding its Democratic primary Saturday. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 29 (UPI) -- South Carolina voters headed to the polls Saturday morning for the Democratic primary, which, with 54 delegates up for grabs, promises the biggest haul of the season so far.
The polls opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. Anyone in line by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote, but no new voters will be allowed to join the line after that time.
South Carolina voters do not have to be a registered member of a party to participate in the presidential primary, which is open to all registered voters. The state political parties use the result of the primary to assign state delegates to the national party convention, where delegates from all participating states choose the party's nominee, who will go on the General Election ballot in November
There are 54 pledged Democratic delegates for the South Carolina primary, more than any other primary or caucus held so far. By comparison, Nevada had 36 delegates up for grabs, New Hampshire, 24 and Iowa 41.
The 54 delegates are allocated proportionally by primary results, but a candidate must meet at least a 15 percent threshold to receive delegates.
In South Carolina, there are also an additional nine superdelegates, who are free to support any candidate for the president at the national convention, the same number of superdelegates that there were in New Hampshire, but less than the 12 superdelegates in Nevada.
So far this primary season, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is leading in the total delegate count with 45, thanks mostly to his win in Nevada, followed by former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 25 and former Vice President Joe Biden at 15.
The South Carolina Republican party canceled the GOP nominating contest this year because the party has incumbent President Donald Trump in the White House, along with a handful of other states.
The South Carolina primary is held a few days ahead of Super Tuesday where 14 states and one U.S. territory, American Samoa, head to the polls. Texas and California have the most Super Tuesday pledged delegates up for grabs, with 228 and 415 delegates each, respectively. Altogether there will be more than 1,300 pledged delegates from Super Tuesday, about a third of the total available.