Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

How your state runs its presidential primaries

1/
Jessica Whittle Photography // Flickr

How your state runs its presidential primaries

The 2018 midterm elections saw the most ballots cast since 1966, with the participation of over 47% of eligible voters. There were even districts with more voters in the midterms than in the previous presidential election. The “Super Tuesday” presidential primaries, in which a majority of districts across the United States choose party candidates for commander-in-chief, are set for March 3, 2020.

Most states run presidential primaries, which run similarly to a general election. Primaries are organized by the particular state, and voters cast a ballot for their chosen candidate. A state's law dictates whether that primary is closed (i.e. a voter must be affiliated with a party to vote in that party's primary election), open (the voter does not need to be registered with a specific party to vote), or semi-closed (each party can choose between open or closed). However, there are a few select states that choose to run a caucus instead. A caucus is run by the political parties; members of a specific party meet, discuss, and choose a candidate to represent their party in the election.

Former President Barack Obama urged young people to vote in a 2018 video for ATTN:, shutting down common excuses for not voting such as “I don't care about politics,” and “I don't have time to vote.” Online movements like Open Primaries and Do Something are weeding out the facts from fiction about voting in the United States for the under-informed.

It's no secret that politics, for many Americans, can be pretty confusing. Navigating a state's government website is enough to give anyone a headache. With the primaries just under a year away, Stacker wanted to give readers important information about how each state runs its presidential primaries in a clear and succinct way. Stacker collected information from the Secretary of State and official election websites and compared facts from online political resources like Fair Vote, Election Central, and Ballotpedia. Additionally, Stacker consulted the online archives of various journalistic resources and local news sites to make sure the information was current.

 

You might also like: History of political parties in America

2/
Eilleen Salazar // Shutterstock

Alabama

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

Alabama voters are not required to have a party affiliation. Voters are, however, required to declare a party affiliation at the polling place, but they will not be held to that party in the following primary. Alabama has been requiring photo identification at the polls since 2014.

3/
Shealah Craighead/SarahPAC // Flickr

Alaska

Democratic primaries: closed
Republican primaries: closed

When it comes Alaska's presidential primaries, voters must be affiliated with a specific party to vote in the caucus. What's more, voters must be registered with their parties two months before the primaries. In Alaska, parties conduct caucuses rather than traditional primaries to find a presidential nominee, and caucuses are organized by the parties rather than the state as a whole.

4/
Nathan Rupert // Flickr

Arizona

Democratic primaries: closed
Republican primaries: closed

To be able to vote in the primaries, voters must register with a particular party a minimum of 29 days before the election in Arizona. Voters must be affiliated with a specific party to vote. A person must submit some form of identification to vote in Arizona, but the form of identification does not need to include a photograph.

5/
U.S. Department of State // Flickr

Arkansas

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

There is no party affiliation required to vote in Arkansas. Arkansas has only been requiring photo identification to vote since 2018, but a person can still cast a provisional ballot if they don't have ID.

6/
Robyn Beck // Getty Images

California

Democratic primaries: semi-closed
Republican primaries: closed

For Republicans, voters are required to declare their party preference 15 days before the election. California voters are rarely asked to show photo identification unless it is their first time voting.

7/
Kerem Yucel // Getty Images

Colorado

Democratic primaries: closed
Republican primaries: closed

Voters in Colorado must be registered with a particular party two months before the primary. A person must be affiliated with a party to vote in its caucus. For young voters, they must have turned 18 at least two months before their party's caucus in order to participate.

8/
roibu // Shutterstock

Connecticut

Democratic primaries: closed
Republican primaries: closed

Voters must register with a specific party in order to vote in the caucus, and voters must register at least three months before the election. The winners are chosen based on the greatest number of votes overall, rather than the majority of votes cast.

9/
Jessie Daniels // Flickr

Delaware

Democratic primaries: closed
Republican primaries: closed

In Delaware, only voters who are registered with a party may vote in the primaries, and they must do so at least 60 days before the election. Delaware uses a plurality voting system for its presidential primaries.

10/
Rob Crandall // Shutterstock

Florida

Democratic primaries: closed
Republican primaries: closed

Voters are required to pick a party within 29 days of the election in Florida. A person must be affiliated with a party to vote in its primary, and must submit both a photo ID and a signature ID at the polls.

11/
Mark Ralston // Getty Images

Georgia

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

There is no party affiliation required to vote in Georgia. Registration can be done online or through the mail and must be submitted no less than 28 days before the election. Voters must be 18 at the time of the election and 17.5 years old at the time of registration.

12/
Alexandru Nika // Shutterstock

Hawaii

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

In Hawaii, houses are organized into a majority caucus and a minority caucus, and each is free to elect their own leaders. To vote in a party's caucus, voters must be registered with that particular party. However, Hawaii allows a person to change their affiliation on the day of the caucus.

13/
Rob Crandall // Shutterstock

Idaho

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

For Democrats, no party affiliation is required to vote in its caucus. Republicans, on the other hand, do require affiliation, but voters are allowed to change their party registration on Election Day. As long as someone will be 18 years old at the time of the election, they are eligible to participate in Idaho's caucus.

14/
Drew Angerer // Getty Images

Illinois

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

Party affiliation is not required in Illinois, but it is customary for voters to verbally declare their party at the polling place before receiving a ballot. A person as young as 17 may be allowed to vote in Illinois as long as they'll be 18 by the general election.

15/
Alexandru Nika // Shutterstock

Indiana

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

While no party affiliation is required, in order to vote in a party's primary, a voter must have cast a ballot in the previous election for a majority of that party's nominees. If they did not vote in the last election, the voter is required to vote for a majority of that party's nominees in the current election, though this is often not enforced.

16/
Darya Andrievskaya // Shutterstock

Iowa

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

In the Iowa caucuses, voters from 1,774 state precincts meet to discuss and elect a delegate. To vote in a particular party's caucus, a voter must be registered with that party. However, voters may change their party on the day of the caucus.

17/
Keith Ivy // Flickr

Kansas

Democratic primaries: semi-closed
Republican primaries: semi-closed

In Kansas, voters must be affiliated with a party to vote in its caucus. On caucus day, unaffiliated voters may choose a party that day. If they're already affiliated, they can only change affiliation 21 or more days before the caucus. In 2016, both parties held their caucus on the same day.

18/
Kerem Yucel // Getty Images

Kentucky

Democratic primaries: closed
Republican primaries: closed

For Democrats, voters must be affiliated with the party to vote in primary elections, and for Republicans, they must be registered for the caucus. For either party, registered voters can change their affiliation by Dec. 31 before the primary, and unregistered voters must choose at least 30 days before.

19/
IIP Photo Archive // Flickr

Louisiana

Democratic primaries: closed
Republican primaries: closed

Voters must register with a party at least one month before the election, and have to be affiliated with a specific party to vote in its primary. Statute law allows both parties to open their primaries to unregistered voters, but neither has chosen to do so.

20/
RachelH // Flickr

Maine

Democratic primaries: semi-closed
Republican primaries: semi-closed

If a party wishes to hold an open primary, they may do so—but only after notifying the Secretary of State before Feb. 1 on the election year. Voters must be affiliated with a party three weeks before the caucus, and must be registered in order to vote. While the Maine legislature passed a law in 2016 establishing primaries for the presidential election, caucuses are still observed.

21/
Maryland GovPics // Flickr

Maryland

Democratic primaries: semi-closed
Republican primaries: semi-closed

Parties in Maryland are permitted to hold open primaries if they notify the state board of elections six months prior. If voters are already affiliated, they may re-register at least 21 days before the primary. However, unregistered voters must declare a party on the day of the election to vote.

22/
Kerem Yucel // Getty Images

Massachusetts

Democratic primaries: semi-closed
Republican primaries: semi-closed

Voters affiliated with a certain party may only vote in their party's primary, as long as they are registered three weeks before. They may choose to remain unaffiliated and vote in either party if they wish. Voters don't usually need to present a photo ID in order to vote unless it is their first time, and it is possible to register online.

23/
Rob Crandall // Shutterstock

Michigan

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

There is no party affiliation needed to vote in Michigan, but voters must register 30 days before the election. While online voting is permitted, residents are not allowed to register to vote online.

24/
Jeff King // Flickr

Minnesota

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

Voters do not need to be affiliated with a particular party to vote in the Minnesota primaries. In order to vote in Minnesota, a person needs to have lived in the state for more than 20 days preceding the election, and same-day voter registration is allowed.

25/
Mario Tama // Getty Images

Mississippi

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

Mississippi law states that a voter must generally be in support of a party's nominations to participate in that primary, though it often goes unenforced. No party registration is required to vote.

26/
Jessica Whittle Photography // Flickr

Missouri

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

A person does not need to be affiliated with a party to vote in Missouri. Voters must be 18 at the time of voting and must present a form of identification to receive a ballot. However, the form of identification does not need to be a photo ID.

27/
Alex Edelman // Getty Images

Montana

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

While affiliation with a specific party is not required in Montana, the state Republican bylaws dictate that their party must choose a closed primary if the state ever changes the law to let either party choose. The deadline for voter registration is 28 days before the election, and online registration is not allowed.

28/
Alex Edelman // Getty Images

Nebraska

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: closed

A person must be affiliated with the party to vote in its primary or caucus in Nebraska. Democrats allow voters to choose on voting day, and Republicans require voters to be registered with their party 10 days before the primary. Nebraska Democrats voted in 2018 to put an end to their caucus procedure and employ a traditional primary system in the 2020 election.

29/
Andrew Mager // Flickr

Nevada

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: closed

Nevada is the third state to share its nominee decision with the rest of the United States. Democrats let voters affiliate with the Democratic Party the day of the caucus, but Republicans only allow affiliation at least 10 days before theirs. Voters are required to register with a specific party to vote in its primary.

30/
Steve Pope // Getty Images

New Hampshire

Democratic primaries: semi-closed
Republican primaries: semi-closed

A voter who wishes to change their party must do so at least one day before the primary. If voters are unaffiliated, they are required to affiliate to vote in a primary. However, voters are given the option to immediately unaffiliate after voting.

31/
Suzanne Tucker // Shutterstock

New Jersey

Democratic primaries: semi-closed
Republican primaries: semi-closed

Those who'd like to change their affiliation are required to do so 50 days before their desired party's primary election. If a person is unaffiliated, they may register at the polls on the day of the election, but they must be affiliated with a specific party to vote in its primary.

32/
Brian Kusler // Flickr

New Mexico

Democratic primaries: closed
Republican primaries: closed

A voter must register for a specific party 28 days before the primary, and must be affiliated with the party whose primary they wish to vote in. New Mexico does not require identification at the polls unless the person did not provide ID when they registered.

33/
S Hooper // Flickr

New York

Democratic primaries: closed
Republican primaries: closed

In order to vote in the presidential primary in New York, a voter must register 25 days before the general election preceding the primary they wish to vote in (usually, that equates to October of the previous year). Voters must be affiliated with a party to participate in its primary, not including the Independence Party.

34/
Rob Crandall // Shutterstock

North Carolina

Democratic primaries: semi-closed
Republican primaries: semi-closed

Voters in North Carolina who are affiliated with a specific party may only vote in their party's primary. If they're unaffiliated, they may remain so while still voting in any party's primary. Residents of North Carolina voted to pass an amendment requiring photo identification at the polls in 2018.

35/
Liz West // Flickr

North Dakota

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

North Dakota doesn't require voter registration, so no party affiliation is necessary. For the 2020 election, state Democrats voted to implement a “firehouse caucus” with hopes to increase participation. This means that there will be 14 different caucus locations set up around the state on caucus day in 2019.

36/
Alex Edelman // Getty Images

Ohio

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

While voters must be affiliated with a party to vote in its primary, it is possible to pick an affiliation on the Election Day. If they voted in a different party for the previous year's primary, they must issue a statement at their polling place that confirms the change.

37/
Scott Olson // Getty Images

Oklahoma

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: closed

In even-numbered years, voters are allowed to change their affiliation before March 31. Parties may amend their preference by November of the year before the primary by informing the state board of education. Voters must be affiliated with a party to vote in its primary.

38/
Susan Ruggles // Flickr

Oregon

Democratic primaries: closed
Republican primaries: closed

Voter registration closes in Oregon 21 days before the election, and a voter must be affiliated with a party in order to vote in its primary. Oregon is an election-by-mail state, meaning voting is done entirely by mail. A person can register online and must provide a federally or state issued ID when doing so.

39/
Patrik Smith // Getty Images

Pennsylvania

Democratic primaries: closed
Republican primaries: closed

It is necessary for a voter to affiliate with a particular party up to 30 days before an election. Only those who've registered with a specific party may vote in that party's primary. The state voted against a law requiring photo ID at the polls in 2014, but voters may still be asked if it is their first time voting.

40/
Joshua Lott // Getty Images

Rhode Island

Democratic primaries: semi-closed
Republican primaries: semi-closed

Voters in Rhode Island may only vote in their affiliated party's primary. If a person is unaffiliated, it is possible to choose between primaries, or they can disaffiliate 90 days before the primary. All voters must register at least 30 days before an election.

41/
Ralph Freso // Getty Images

South Carolina

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

According to South Carolina laws, while it is not required to affiliate, voters are required to declare that they have not yet voted in another primary. South Carolina also has an online voter system and requires photo identification at polling places.

42/
Scott Olson // Getty Images

South Dakota

Democratic primaries: semi-closed
Republican primaries: closed

South Dakota allows parties to choose between semi-closed elections. For Democratic primaries, voters do not need to be registered as a Democrat to vote. For Republicans, voters must affiliate with the Republican Party at least 15 days before an election.

43/
Alex Wong // Getty Images

Tennessee

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

While no affiliation is required, voters must either affiliate at their polling place on the day of or make a statement in support of the party. Republicans changed their bylaws in 2017 to require presidential candidates to have voted in three out of the last four GOP primaries in order to run as a Republican.

44/
IIP Photo Archive // Flickr

Texas

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

A person is not required to affiliate with a certain party to vote in Texas. The state uses three different methods for voting in the primaries: paper ballots, optical scan systems, and Direct Record Electronic systems. Paper ballots continue to be the most used method of voting in several counties throughout the state.

45/
Mario Tama // Getty Images

Utah

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

Utah holds caucuses in different neighborhoods throughout the state. Members vote for delegates to represent their precinct at county and state conventions. Both parties require affiliation, but it is possible for voters to affiliate at their polling place on the day of the election.

46/
Joshua Lott // Getty Images

Vermont

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

Vermont does not require registration by party. Presidential candidates are required to submit a petition signed by 1,000 Vermont citizens who are registered to vote to the Secretary of State to be considered for the primaries.

47/
Rob Crandall // Shutterstock

Virginia

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

No registration by party is required in Virginia. The Republican Party in the state initially had plans to request a “party loyalty pledge” during its presidential primary in 2016, but later voted against it.

48/
Scott Olson // Getty Images

Washington

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: closed

Democrats allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the time of the next election to vote in the primary, and anyone can vote in its caucus regardless of affiliation. Republicans, on the other hand, require all voters to be 18. In January 2019, the Senate passed a bill that would move up the state's presidential primary by at least two months.

49/
Carol A Hudson // Shutterstock

West Virginia

Democratic primaries: semi-closed
Republican primaries: semi-closed

Registered voters in West Virginia may change their affiliation 21 days before the primary, but may only vote in that party's primary. If a person is unaffiliated, they can vote in either party's primary while remaining unaffiliated.

50/
Rob Crandall // Shutterstock

Wisconsin

Democratic primaries: open
Republican primaries: open

There is no requirement for party affiliation in Wisconsin. For the 2016 presidential primaries, voter turnout was at 47.4%, a step up from the overall average of 37% since 1948.

51/
Scott Olson // Getty Images

Wyoming

Democratic primaries: closed
Republican primaries: closed

A person must be registered with a specific party to vote in its caucus, with Democrats allowing affiliation 15 days before and Republicans 10 days before. As a result of the 2016 election, Wyoming Democrats formed a new “progressive caucus” in hopes of increasing participation.

2018 All rights reserved.