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Primary Elections

What is a party primary election?

The Democratic and Republican Parties are required to use primary elections to choose their candidates for the general election. Although it is up to the parties to decide who may vote in their primaries, generally only registered voters affiliated with the Democratic or Republican Parties may vote in that party's primary election.

Can I vote in a party primary election?

Generally, you must be registered with either the Democratic or Republican Party to vote in the primary election. If there are non-partisan offices that are elected in a primary election (i.e., school board), any voter can vote for these offices. Contact your local board of elections.

May I change political parties?

Yes, except during the 21 days before a primary election. For the 2020 Primary Election, the deadline to change your party affiliation is April 7, 2020.

To change your party affiliation, use Maryland's Online Voter Registration System (OLVR) or submit a new voter registration application or a written request to your local board of elections. If you request a change in party affiliation after April 7, 2020, your party change will not be processed until registration reopens after the primary election.

Do I have to affiliate with a political party?

No, you do not. If you do not select a political party on your voter registration application, you will be "unaffiliated" with any political party. This means that you will generally not be able to vote in party primary elections, but you will be able to vote in any nonpartisan primary elections held in your jurisdiction, such as a primary election to select nominees for the board of education.

If I apply to register to vote before my 18th birthday and the primary election is before I turn 18, can I vote in the primary election?

Yes, if you will be 18 years old by the general election and you are registered to vote with the Democratic or Republican Party.