UPDATED FOR 2020!
I initially wrote this post to answer questions about the 2016 election. Now it is March 2020, and people have questions about the new presidential election. I’m not interested in reinventing the wheel, so I’ve updated these presidential election FAQs regarding the 2020 presidential election.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve received a fair amount of search traffic to my post explaining the presidential primary elections. A lot of readers seem to have more questions regarding the presidential election. I hope this post will clear things up!
Note: these are actual search phrases that have led to my blog. I made a few edits to spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
If you vote on Super Tuesday, do you get to vote again in November?
Can I vote in the Super Tuesday election and vote in November?
Yes! If you vote on Super Tuesday or in any other primary election (or caucus), you can still vote in the general election in November. It’s awesome if you vote in both the primary election and the general presidential election!
Can you vote in the general election if you didn’t vote in the primary?
If you didn’t vote in the primaries, can you vote in the main election?
Is it true that you have to vote in the primary election or you won’t be able to vote in the general election?
If you didn’t vote in the primary, can you vote in the general election?
I wish I could force you to vote in the primaries if you want to vote in the general election. However, the presidential election doesn’t work that way. When I was in college, I had planned on driving home to vote in the SC Republican primary election, but the weather made the drive unsafe. I didn’t vote in the primaries that year. I still voted in the general election later. If you missed your primary presidential election, you can still vote in the general election in November.
I’m a registered Independent, but I want to vote in the Republican primary.
If your state has an open primary or a mixed/semi-closed primary, you can vote in the Republican primary as a registered Independent. If your state has a closed primary, you can change your registration from Independent to Republican in advance of the primary. Each state has its own particular interpretation of all of these guidelines. You can find more information about your state’s primary rules here.
If I vote for a Republican on Super Tuesday can I change my mind later?
If I vote Democrat on Super Tuesday do I have to vote Democrat in November?
You do not have to vote for the same political party during the primaries as you do in the general election. Back in 2016, I voted for Bernie Sanders in Georgia’s Democratic primary, but I then voted for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, in November. This year, I plan to vote in the Democratic primary, and I will vote for the Democratic candidate in the general election.
What exactly are the primary elections?
The presidential primary elections determine the Republican and the Democratic presidential candidates. For example, the 2008 primaries resulted in the presidential election between Obama and McCain. Since President Trump is the incumbent, not all states will hold Republican presidential primaries. However, all states will hold Democratic presidential primaries to determine the Democratic candidate. Unless something truly wild happens, even if you vote for another Republican in the presidential primary, Trump will most likely win the nomination again.
Your ballot will most likely include other primary races, like for the Senate or House of Representatives. Voting in the primary election isn’t just about choosing your presidential candidate!
Is it a big deal to vote in the primary?
Why should I vote in the primaries?
I wrote an entire detailed blog post on why it’s so important to vote in the primary elections! That post has not been updated for 2020, but the general reasons still apply. Less people vote in the presidential primary elections, so your vote matters even more. This is especially true if you live in a solidly blue or red state, where your vote statistically matters little in the general election.
What is a mixed primary election?
A mixed primary election, also called a semi-closed primary, allows for unaffiliated or Independent voters to vote in either the Republican or the Democratic primary. However, registered Republicans can only vote in the Republican primary. Registered Democrats can only vote in the Democratic primary.
If you are a registered Republican and you go to a primary election and vote Democrat does it really count?
Assuming you are voting in an open primary, then yes, your vote really counts! Plenty of disillusioned Republicans are voting against President Trump this year.
In the national presidential election can you vote for whomever you want even if you are a registered Democrat?
Yes! In the national presidential election, you can vote for any presidential candidate, regardless of your party affiliation.
I received a new question from the comments, which I’m adding below.
Can people vote for a candidate in the presidential elections that are not the selected candidate for either of the Republican or Democratic parties?
This particular question refers to the primary candidates who lost their bids to be the Republican or Democratic presidential nominee. It is possible for a primary candidate who dropped out of or lost the presidential primary to run as an independent or as a write-in candidate. However, I highly doubt any of them will choose to do that. You can always write-in a candidate anyway, but your vote won’t count.
Do you have any more questions regarding the presidential election? Ask below in the comments, and I’ll update this post with the answers!