How do primaries in your state work?

The first statewide primary of 2019 is approaching – here’s a rundown of five facts about primary systems.
 
1. An open primary is any primary election in which a voter either does not have to formally affiliate with a political party in order to vote in its primary or can declare his or her affiliation with a party at the polls on the day of the primary even if the voter was previously affiliated with a different party.
 
In 22 states, at least one party conducts open primaries. Is your state one of them? Click the link to find out.
 
2. In 39 states, a candidate needs to win only a plurality (as opposed to a majority) of all votes cast in order to be declared the winner of a primary. Is your state one of them? Click the link to find out.
 
3. Generally, political parties use primary elections either to narrow the field of candidates for a given elective office or to determine their nominees in advance of a general election. In seven states, however, political parties can nominate candidates for some offices for the general election directly, without conducting a primary election. Is your state one of them? Click the link to find out.
 
4. A closed primary is a type of primary election in which a voter must affiliate formally with a political party in advance of the election date in order to participate in that party’s primary. In 14 states, at least one political party conducts closed primaries. Is your state one of them? Click the link to find out.
 
5. In eight states, a candidate must win a majority of all votes cast (i.e., 50 percent plus at least one) in order to be declared the winner of a primary election. Is your state one of them? Click the link to find out.



About the author

Jerrick Adams

Jerrick Adams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at jerrick.adams@ballotpedia.org

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