» By PHILIP SPARN – psparn@my.apsu.edu

Tennessee voters, along with voters from nine other states, will select their preferred candidate for the 2012 presidential elections on what is known as “Super Tuesday” on March 6.

While many APSU students will be focused on spring break, the nation will have its eyes on these 10 Super Tuesday primary and caucus states, which include Tennessee, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Vermont and Virginia.

Super Tuesday voters will choose which presidential candidate they want nominated at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions later this summer.

“This process allows the voters to give their input on who they want to vote for in November,” said assistant Political Science professor Andrew Steinfeldt.

Since Tennessee holds an open primary, any registered voter can either vote in the Republican or Democratic primary, according to Vickie Koelman, Montgomery County’s administrator of elections.

Those who will be voting for the Republican nominee can choose between Texas congressman Ron Paul, former Pennsylvania congressman Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Michael Jenkins, junior Political Science major, believes it will be a close race between Santorum, Romney and Gingrich here in Tennessee.

“Every candidate has a possibility of winning at least one state on Super Tuesday,” Jenkins said. “Every state counts and a win in Tennessee will be vital for any of the Republican candidates trying to gain support in the south.”

Although incumbent President Barack Obama is uncontested in this year’s Democratic primary, voters can still show their support for the president by voting for him on the Democrat Presidential Preference ballot, according to Koelman.

Koelman also pointed out voters can write-in a candidate of their choice, if they are unhappy with the available options offered by either party.

While the early voting period has already passed, the polls will be open on Super Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., March 6, according to the Montgomery County Election Commission.

Koelman said she hopes everyone in the community, especially students, will participate in the upcoming presidential primary election. She also hopes everyone will also participate in every upcoming election, regardless of what office is being voted on.

“If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain about any of the candidates,” Jenkins said.

Koelman said if students need help figuring out where to vote, to call the Montgomery County Election Commission’s office or your county’s election commission and they will direct you to your local precinct. TAS