If you’re thinking ‘I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a closed primary state,’ well, you’re not alone. Today we want to get you up to speed on open versus closed primary states and how living in a closed primary state affects voters.
What is a Closed Primary?
A closed primary state means that voters must register to whichever party he/she/they would like to vote for in the primary. The purpose of the primary is for members of the Democratic or Republican Party to choose the candidates they want to see represent their party on the general ballot in November. If you are registered as an independent or another party outside the two major parties, you will not be able to participate in your local primary elections.
If you’d like to participate in this year's primary election, visit VotesPA and update your voter registration to either Democrat or Republican by May 3, 2021. This will not impact who you will be eligible to vote for in the November general election.
What’s an Open Primary?
In an open primary, voters can vote for any candidate without being limited by party. Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, in an open primary you can cast your ballot across party lines. Open primary states allow flexibility when it comes to party affiliation.
In recent years there has been a push to open Pennsylvania's primary in order to make it more accessible.
What else do I need to know?
Open and closed are the two main types of primaries, but you’ll also find partially closed, partially open, and open to unaffiliated voters primaries. In each state you’ll find nuances of the two primary modes.
Remember, whether you decide to join the fight to open Pennsylvania's primary or you are just learning about our Commonwealth's primary system, you must be registered as a Democrat or Republican by May 3, 2021 to vote for either Democratic or Republican candidates during the 2021 Primary Election.