Every primary election, we hear complaints from family and friends about the fact that they have to ask an election judge for a Democratic, Republican, or Green party ballot. 

Some other states do run primary elections differently. We’ve compiled a breakdown for you below.

Open Primary: A voter can privately choose any party’s ballot to vote on. There is no need to register with a political party beforehand.

  • Alabama
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Vermont
  • Arkansas
  • Minnesota
  • North Dakota
  • Virginia
  • Georgia
  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina
  • Wisconsin
  • Hawaii
  • Missouri
  • Texas

Partially Open: A voter can choose any party’s ballot to vote on, but must publicly declare which party’s ballot they want.

  • Illinois
  • Tennessee
  • Indiana
  • Wyoming
  • Iowa
  • Ohio

Closed Primary: A voter must register with a political party before voting on that party’s primary ballot. Independent, or unaffiliated voters, are excluded from voting.

  • Delaware
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania
  • Florida
  • New Mexico
  • Kentucky
  • New York
  • Maryland
  • Oregon

Top-Two Primary: The “top two” format uses a common ballot, listing all candidates on the same ballot. The top two vote getters in each race, regardless of party, advance to the general election. Top-two, nonpartisan blanket, jungle primary are used interchangeably.

  • California
  • Washington
  • Nebraska (for nonpartisan legislative races only)
  • Louisiana**

**In the case of Louisiana — all candidates run in the general election, if a candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, they win outright. If no candidate receives 50 percent in the general, then the top two vote getters compete in a runoff election.

Sources: http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/primary-types.aspx