- Understand the four types of elections used in Texas
- Understand the type of primary used in Texas
Types of elections in Texas
- Primary Elections
- Runoff Elections
- General Elections
- Special Elections
Primaries in Texas
Type of Primaries
- Closed primary. People may vote in a party’s primary only if they are registered members of that party prior to election day. Independents cannot participate. Note that because some political parties name themselves independent, the terms “non-partisan” or “unaffiliated” often replace “independent” when referring to those who are not affiliated with a political party. Eleven states – Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, District of Columbia, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming – have closed primaries.
- Semi-closed. As in closed primaries, registered party members can vote only in their own party’s primary. Semi-closed systems, however, allow unaffiliated voters to participate as well. Depending on the state, independents either make their choice of party primary privately, inside the voting booth, or publicly, by registering with any party on Election Day. Thirteen states – Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and West Virginia – have semi-closed primaries that allow voters to register or change party preference on election day.
- Open primary. A registered voter may vote in any party primary regardless of his or her own party affiliation. Eleven states – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin – have open primaries. When voters do not register with a party before the primary, it is called a pick-a-party primary because the voter can select which party’s primary he or she wishes to vote in on election day. Because of the open nature of this system, a practice known as raiding may occur. Raiding consists of voters of one party crossing over and voting in the primary of another party, effectively allowing a party to help choose its opposition’s candidate. The theory is that opposing party members vote for the weakest candidate of the opposite party in order to give their own party the advantage in the general election.
- Semi-open. A registered voter need not publicly declare which political party’s primary that they will vote in before entering the voting booth. When voters identify themselves to the election officials, they must request a party’s specific ballot. Only one ballot is cast by each voter. In many states with semi-open primaries, election officials or poll workers from their respective parties record each voter’s choice of party and provide access to this information. The primary difference between a semi-open and open primary system is the use of a party-specific ballot. In a semi-open primary, a public declaration in front of the election judges is made and a party-specific ballot given to the voter to cast. Certain states that use the open-primary format may print a single ballot and the voter must choose on the ballot itself which political party’s candidates they will select for a contested office.
- Blanket primary. A primary in which the ballot is not restricted to candidates from one party.
- Nonpartisan blanket primary. A primary in which the ballot is not restricted to candidates from one party, where the top two candidates advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation. Louisiana has famously operated under this system, which has been nicknamed the “jungle primary.” California has used a nonpartisan blanket primary since 2012 after passing Proposition 14 in 2010, and the state of Washington has used a nonpartisan blanket primary since 2008.
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