As discussed in our main Primary guides, primaries allow voters to pick candidates for the November general election. This is your chance to determine who you and others will ultimately get to vote for. Continue reading below or download a PDF of the full Primary Voting for Out-of-State Students resource here.

Who you can vote for in different types of primaries

Eligibility requirements for voting in a primary vary from state to state, and depend on the type of primary being held.  Primary rules differ from general election rules, because you not only have to be registered and supply any required ID. You also may also have to register with a particular party to vote for your preferred candidate. If you register to vote in a state that’s different from where you’re going to school, you can find key information below, but we also recommend that you check for possible eligibility variations at your state election website or Vote411.org (which also provides stands for many of the candidates). If you want email or text reminders, you can get them from TurboVote and Rock the Vote, along with registration documents or online registration.

Here are the types of primaries:

  • Closed: Voter must be a registered party member. This does not commit you to vote for any particular party in November.
  • Semi-closed or Open to Unaffiliated Voters (OUV): Unaffiliated voters can participate in any party primary they choose, but voters registered with one party cannot vote in another party primary. Some states require unaffiliated voters to declare a party affiliation at the polls to vote in that party’s primary.
  • Open: Voters can choose privately (in the voting booth) which party’s ballot they complete. This decision does not register the voter with that party.
  • Semi-open: Voters can cross party lines in their ballot selection but must publicly declare their ballot choice before going into the booth. This avoids avoid having their ballot selection regarded as a form of registration for that party. Some states allow voters to publicly change their party affiliation for the purpose of voting in the primary election.
  • Top-Two: A small number of states use a common ballot that lists candidates from all parties. The top two nominees, regardless of party affiliation, move on to the general election.

Primary election schedule and types of primaries – all states

Primaries are held in different states from March through September. The table below provides primary election types and dates plus registration deadlines for all states. We’ve given a range of dates if they have different deadlines for different registration methods (in-person, mail, online).  Additional registration details can be found at your state election site, Vote411.org or the U.S. Vote FoundationAbsentee ballot information can be found at the same links.

State Primary Type Registration Deadline Primary Date
Alabama Closed May 21 June 5
Alaska Semi-closed July 22 August 21
Arizona Open July 30 August 28
Arkansas Semi-open April 23 May 22
California Semi-closed May 21 June 5
Colorado Closed June 18 or election day June 26
Connecticut Closed August 9 August 14
Delaware OUV August 11 September 6
District of Columbia   May 28 – June 19 June 19
Florida Closed July 30 August 28
Georgia Semi-open April 23 – 24 May 22
Hawaii Semi-closed July 12 August 11
Idaho Open April 20 or election day May 15
Illinois Semi-closed February 20 – March 20 March 20
Indiana Open April 9 May 8
Iowa Open May 25 or election day June 5
Kansas Top Two July 17 August 7
Kentucky OUV April 23 May 22
Louisiana Open October 9 or October 16 November 6
Maine Semi-open May 22 or election day June 12
Maryland Closed June 5 June 26
Massachusetts OUV August 15 September 4
Michigan Open July 9 August 7
Minnesota Open July 24 or election day August 14
Mississippi Open May 7 June 5
Missouri Open July 11 August 7
Montana Open May 7 or election day June 5
Nebraska Top Two April 30 or May 4 May 15
Nevada Closed May 15 or May 22 June 12
New Hampshire OUV Deadlines vary by locality. September 11
New Jersey OUV May 15 June 5
New Mexico Closed May 8 June 5
New York Closed March 30 or April 14 April 24
North Carolina Semi-closed April 13 March 8
North Dakota Open Not required June 12
Ohio Semi-open April 9 May 8
Oklahoma Semi-closed June 8 June 26
Oregon Closed April 24 May 15
Pennsylvania Closed April 16 May 15
Rhode Island OUV August 12 September 12
South Carolina Open May 11 – May 14 June 5
South Dakota Semi-closed May 21 June 5
Tennessee Semi-open July 3 August 2
Texas Open February 5 March 6
Utah Semi-closed May 28 or June 19 June 26
Vermont Open Election day August 14
Virginia Open May 21 June 12
Washington Top Two July 9 or July 30 August 7
West Virginia OUV April 17 May 8
Wisconsin Open July 25 or August 10 August 14
Wyoming Semi-open August 6 or election day August 21