City Manager Roger LeDuc said he has received approval from the U.S. Department of Justice to hold the referendum.
“The goal for those who would like to see this happen is there would be potentially more candidates that could run for election,” he said.
Currently, the city’s election system mirrors the national system. Primaries are held and the party winners face off in a general election.
If voters decide to change the election system, no one who decides to run for a city office would be required to declare a party affiliation, eliminating the need for a primary.
“There are some people who don’t feel they are Republican or Democrat and may not run because of that,” Mr. LeDuc said, adding that it’s difficult for someone wanting to run as an independent to get on the ballot.
Candidates running as independents must collect enough signatures – 5 percent of the registered voters – from the district in which they are running.
But with a nonpartisan election system, candidates would not be affiliated with any political party.
Mr. LeDuc said Aiken is one of only six cities in the state that still hold partisan elections.