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Generally, a registered voter will simply select a party's ballot at the polling place on the day of the primary.
Possible effects of an open primary
According to FairVote, open primaries can lead to more centrist candidates being selected. As members of one party may cross over to vote in the other party's primary, they often vote for the candidate they consider least objectionable. Thus, Democrats voting in Republican primaries would vote for the most Democratic Republican candidate, and vice versa, leading to both parties having center-leaning nominees in the general election.
In some cases, one party's voters may try to coordinate to vote for a less-electable candidate in the opposing party's primary. If successful, "party crashing" voters could improve their own party's chances by selecting a weaker opponent for the general election.
States that use an open primary
There are 19 states that use an open primary process.
***Note: California, Louisiana and Washington use the Top-2 blanket primary process.
Other primary systems
Some states have a mixed primary system, in which some parties allow any registered voter to vote in their primary and other parties restrict their primary to party members.
In a blanket primary, voters pick one candidate for each office without regard to party. The candidates with the most votes advance to the general election. For example, two Democrats or two Republicans can advance beyond the primary to the general election.
- Voting in the 2012 primary elections
- Closed primary
- Blanket primary
- Primary election
- Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections
- Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 U.S. Congress elections
- ↑ MTV Rock the Vote: Terms and Definitions
- ↑ How Stuff Works "Types of Primaries," Accessed April 27, 2012
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 FairVote.org "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" Accessed April 27, 2012
- ↑ The Daily Beast "Some Suspect Foul Play in S.C. Primary," June 11, 2010
- ↑ VotesPA "Primary Election," Accessed April 27, 2012