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How Politics Affect You: Open vs. Closed Primaries

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

If you are like me, getting Donald Trump out of office is extremely important to accomplish in the 2020 elections. There are many ways to do this, but a relatively easy way is through the primaries. There are five Republicans who have publicly expressed interest in running against Trump in the 2020 Republican primary: Bob Corker, Larry Hogan, John Kasich, Bill Kristol and Bill Weld.

Through the various primaries, each of you have an opportunity to vote for one of these Republicans so that Donald Trump does not get the chance to run in the general election. While you might want to save your vote for deciding which Democrat will win, I would instead vote for a Republican, since your vote has more power when you do this.

Your ability to vote for one of these men depends upon if you are registered as a Republican or a Democrat, and if you live in a Closed Primary state or an Open Primary state.

Closed Primaries

If you are a registered Republican or Democrat, you have to vote for your party in Closed Primaries.

  • Delaware

  • Florida

  • Kentucky

  • Maryland

  • Nebraska (for presidential elections, not legislative races)

  • Nevada

  • New Mexico

  • New York

  • Oregon

  • Pennsylvania

Partially Closed

If you are in a Partially Closed state, you have to do more research because it is the individual parties decision to let unaffiliated or opposition voters in their primaries.

  • Alaska

  • Connecticut

  • Idaho

  • North Carolina

  • Oklahoma

  • South Dakota

  • Utah

Partially Open

If you are in a Partially Open state, you can be registered to either party but must publicly declare the ballot of your choice when you vote.

  • Illinois

  • Indiana

  • Iowa

  • Ohio

  • Tennessee

  • Wyoming

Open to Unaffiliated Voters

If your state is Open to Unaffiliated Voters, then you can only vote in either the Republican or Democratic party if you aren’t registered.

  • Arizona

  • Colorado

  • Kansas

  • Maine

  • Massachusetts

  • New Hampshire

  • New Jersey

  • Rhode Island

  • West Virginia

Open Primaries

If you are in an Open Primary state, you can vote for either primary no matter what party you are or aren’t registered as.

  • Alabama

  • Arkansas

  • Georgia

  • Hawaii

  • Michigan

  • Minnesota

  • Mississippi

  • Missouri

  • Montana

  • North Dakota

  • South Carolina

  • Texas

  • Vermont

  • Virginia

  • Wisconsin

Top-Two Primaries

If your state follows the Top-Two Primary, you can also vote for either party.

  • California

  • Louisiana

  • Washington

When the 2020 Primaries occur, I encourage everyone to vote for a Republican nominee that is not Donald Trump if you live in a state where that is possible—especially since I live in a Closed Primary state, and, as a registered Democrat, I will not be able to do so.