2020 Primaries

What are primary elections?

Prior to the general election at the end of the year, states hold a primary election to narrow down candidates for a particular elective office or to determine which politicians will be the nominees for political parties before the general election. 


When to Vote

Dates for primary elections and registration vary by state and many have been changed due to COVID-19. Check the TurboVote Primary Elections page to learn more. 

There are several different forms of primary elections that are used by various states. Visit Ballotpedia to learn which primary election systems are used in your state. 


Closed Primaries

In closed primary elections, voters must officially affiliate themselves with.a political party in order to participate. In 14 states and the District of Columbia at least one political party holds closed primary elections for congressional and state-level offices.


Open Primaries

Open primaries are elections where voters do not have to officially affiliate themselves with a political party in order to vote in the primary election. At least one political party conducts open primaries for congressional and state-level offices in 22 states.


Semi-closed Primary

In a semi-closed (hybrid) primary election, voters who were previously unaffiliated with a political party may vote in the partisan primary of their choice. However, voters who are already affiliated with a political party are only allowed to vote within that party’s primary. Semi-closed primaries are held in 15 states by at least one political party for congressional and state-level offices.


Top-two Primary

In a top-two primary election, all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot, regardless of party affiliation. The top two candidates with the most votes will advance to the general election. Washington, California, and Nebraska utilize the top-two primary system.


Voter ID Laws

Many states have varying degrees of strictness when it comes to what form of ID is required to vote. Visit Vote Riders to learn more about what ID you need to participate in the primary election. 


Absentee Ballot

Do you want to register or continue voting in your home state while a student at Rice? No worries! You can register from here and cast an absentee ballot! Visit rice.turbovote.org to register, request an absentee ballot, and receive election reminders by email or text. TurboVote will send the absentee ballot to you with a stamped and addressed envelope. All you have to do is complete your ballot and drop it in the mail!


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Center for Civic Leadership
Rice Memorial Center, Room 208
6100 Main St.
Houston, TX 77005


Phone: 713-348-2223
Fax: 713-348-5885
Email: ccl@rice.edu


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