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.

StatePrimary TypeRegistration DeadlinePrimary Date
AlabamaClosedMay 21June 5
AlaskaSemi-closedJuly 22August 21
ArizonaOpenJuly 30August 28
ArkansasSemi-openApril 23May 22
CaliforniaSemi-closedMay 21June 5
ColoradoClosedJune 18 or election dayJune 26
ConnecticutClosedAugust 9August 14
DelawareOUVAugust 11September 6
District of Columbia May 28 – June 19June 19
FloridaClosedJuly 30August 28
GeorgiaSemi-openApril 23 – 24May 22
HawaiiSemi-closedJuly 12August 11
IdahoOpenApril 20 or election dayMay 15
IllinoisSemi-closedFebruary 20 – March 20March 20
IndianaOpenApril 9May 8
IowaOpenMay 25 or election dayJune 5
KansasTop TwoJuly 17August 7
KentuckyOUVApril 23May 22
LouisianaOpenOctober 9 or October 16November 6
MaineSemi-openMay 22 or election dayJune 12
MarylandClosedJune 5June 26
MassachusettsOUVAugust 15September 4
MichiganOpenJuly 9August 7
MinnesotaOpenJuly 24 or election dayAugust 14
MississippiOpenMay 7June 5
MissouriOpenJuly 11August 7
MontanaOpenMay 7 or election dayJune 5
NebraskaTop TwoApril 30 or May 4May 15
NevadaClosedMay 15 or May 22June 12
New HampshireOUVDeadlines vary by locality.September 11
New JerseyOUVMay 15June 5
New MexicoClosedMay 8June 5
New YorkClosedMarch 30 or April 14April 24
North CarolinaSemi-closedApril 13March 8
North DakotaOpenNot requiredJune 12
OhioSemi-openApril 9May 8
OklahomaSemi-closedJune 8June 26
OregonClosedApril 24May 15
PennsylvaniaClosedApril 16May 15
Rhode IslandOUVAugust 12September 12
South CarolinaOpenMay 11 – May 14June 5
South DakotaSemi-closedMay 21June 5
TennesseeSemi-openJuly 3August 2
TexasOpenFebruary 5March 6
UtahSemi-closedMay 28 or June 19June 26
VermontOpenElection dayAugust 14
VirginiaOpenMay 21June 12
WashingtonTop TwoJuly 9 or July 30August 7
West VirginiaOUVApril 17May 8
WisconsinOpenJuly 25 or August 10August 14
WyomingSemi-openAugust 6 or election dayAugust 21