Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATE
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATE

BALLOT ACCESS GLOSSARY

glossary

  • Ballot Access: The conditions under which a candidate is either entitled to stand for an election or to appear on voters’ ballots.
  • Closed Primary: Only voters who are registered as members of a political party prior to the primary date may vote in the party’s primary.
  • Open Primary: Registered voters of any affiliation may vote in the party primary of their choice.
  • Hybrid Primary: (Somewhere in between an “open” and a “closed” primary) Procedures are unique from state to state. Some states allow voters to cross party lines to vote. Depending on the state, choosing a ballot may actually be a form of registration in the party. Unaffiliated voters may or may not be permitted to vote in the primary (depends on the state). In some states, political parties may decide for themselves whether to permit unaffiliated voters or those of other parties to vote in their primary.
  • Semi-Closed Primary: Registered party members can only vote in their own party’s primary, but unaffiliated voters can vote in a primary of their choice. Depending on the state, unaffiliated voters make their choice either by publicly registering with a party on election day or inside the voting booth. A semi-closed primary is a type of hybrid.
  • Top-Two Primary: (Known also as a nonpartisan blanket primary) All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, are listed on one ballot. Voters choose their favorite and the top two vote getters become the candidates in the general election. Two candidates from the same party can advance to the second round. (Used in California, Washington, Louisiana and Nebraska. In Louisiana, a second-round runoff only takes place if a candidate fails to win more than 50% of the vote in the first round.) Sometimes called an Open Primary.
  • Instant Runoff Voting (IRV): (Also called Ranked Choice Voting.) Requires voters to vote for every candidate by ranking them. If no candidate receives a majority, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is removed. That candidate’s ballots are then recounted and go to the second choice. The process continues until a single candidate secures a majority. IRV is a way of electing a single winner among a field of three or more without allowing a candidate to win without a majority of the votes.

 

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