Difference between revisions of "Open primary"

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An open primary is a primary election in which any registered voter can vote in any party's primary. Voters choose which primary to vote in, and do not have to be a member of that party in order to vote.[1]

Generally, a registered voter will simply select a party's ballot at the polling place on the day of the primary.[2]

Possible effects of an open primary

Center-leaning nominees

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.[3]

Primary sabotage

In some cases, one party's voters may try to coordinate to vote for a less-electable candidate in the opposing party's primary.[3] If successful, "party crashing" voters could improve their own party's chances by selecting a weaker opponent for the general election.[4]

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

Closed primary

In contrast to an open primary, a closed primary system requires voters to be registered with the party whose primary they wish to vote in.[5]

Mixed primary

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.

Blanket primary

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.

See also