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What is a Primary Election?

A Primary election happens when voters in a jurisdiction elect candidates for an up and coming general election, whether it is for the presidency, a congressional seat, or a seat in a state or local legislature.

There are different types of primary elections and choices that a voter can choose from:

  • Closed primary: When voters, who have registered with one political party, nominates a candidate for a political office.
  • Semi-closed primary: When party members who are registered to vote, vote only in there own party's primary. Independents can make their choice of voting privately, inside the booth, or publicly, by registering with any party on Election Day.
  • Blanket primary: Voters may nominate any candidate regardless of what political party they are affiliated with in a blanket primary.
  • Open primary: Happens when the voters must publicly declare their choice of which primary to participate in the privacy of a voting booth. A voter also has the chance of voting privately in an open primary in the privacy of a voting booth.
  • Presidential primary: Democrat and Republican voters receive color coded ballots, and only ballots from party voters are counted for the selection of delegates. Voters that are unaffiliated with a party may also cast their vote for any candidate, regardless of their party affiliation.

In the United States, general elections serve as a purpose to elect an official for office after the primary elections have already taken place.

The general election normally takes place on Election Day, which is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. On Election Day, the whole United States House of Representatives is elected, although the United States Congress is not.

In nonpartisan elections, a candidate runs for office on his or her own free will, rather than as a member of a political party. There is no political party on the ballot next to the name of a nonpartisan candidate. Nonpartisan elections are most likely held for municipal and county offices and are common in the election of judges.

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