Party Affiliation Required for the Presidential Nomination Primary

January 21, 2020

If an individual refuses to select a party, he or she will not be able to vote in the presidential nomination primary.

Absentee voting for the March 3 presidential primary opened on Jan. 17, prompting questions about the requirement that all voters designate their party affiliation.

In previous primary elections, all voters received the same ballot and could vote within one party, often arranged in a column for convenience.

Party-specific ballots

This year, voters will be required to declare a party affiliation and will be presented with a ballot from the party of their choice. Election judges will determine which ballot to give to a voter based on which party the voter declares when they are checking in to vote.

If an individual refuses to select a party, he or she will not be able to vote in the presidential nomination primary.

Two major parties — the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and the Republican Party — have submitted candidates for the ballot. Two other major parties — the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party and the Legal Marijuana Now Party — have notified the Office of the Secretary of State that they will not be participating.

How party choice data is used

A voter’s choice of party ballot is recorded by the election judges and is private data. However, a list of who voted in a presidential nomination primary and the political party each voter selected will be provided to the chair of each major political party.

There are not currently restrictions placed on how the political party chairs can use or share the voter data. Some local officials have expressed concerns about their party affiliation becoming public when most local offices are considered nonpartisan.

There is not a way for a voter to opt out of the party designation and still vote in this election.

Ballots will continue to be tabulated anonymously. How individuals vote on the ballot will not be tracked.

—Get additional guidance from the Office of the Secretary of State website