Did YOU Have to Make a Party Declaration to Register to Vote?

Which states require a person to declare a political party affiliation in order to register to vote?

I live in Missouri and did not have to make such a declaration, but from things I read I understand that some other states require one to make a party declaration or to register as an independent. In primary elections we can just ask for a Republican or Democratic ballot. I was curious as to what the regulations are in the other states.

So please post the regulations in your state, including any items you feel might be a bit unusual about either the registration process or the actual voting process.





If you “cross party lines” your entire ballot is invalidated. Non-partisans (like me) can still vote in the Primaries, but we can only choose non-partisan candidates. We can still vote on measures though. I did not vote in the primaries because there were no candidates that were non-partisan, and because I did not know enough about the measures to vote on them. I’ll vote in the general election though.


Can declare no affiliation. My wife just registered, and I think her choices were Democrat, Republican, other, and none.

I think thats a recent change, though. When I registered back in 89, I recall having to declare Democrat or Republican.

Texas does not require party affiliation in order to register to vote. However, if you vote in a primary, you must declare which party you’re voting for and they stamp your voter registration card indicating which party you voted for. IIRC, you are then “locked in” to that party until the next time they issue a new voter registration card, which is every two years after each “major” election.

That all sounds very strange. Does that mean that in some states if you’re a registered Republican you can’t vote for Kerry?

It’s more to do with primaries. A registered republican can vote for Kerry.

I’m in RI, and the process when going to the polls for a primary is to walk in, change my affiliation from unaffiliated to Democratic or Republican, depending on which primary I think my vote will be better spent on, get the ballot, vote, put it in the Diebold machine, wait for the comforting shredding noise, go back and disaffiliate again, and walk out a free man.

In Ohio, you don’t register with a party. You declare your party during the primaries. You could change parties during the next primary on election day if you choose. You are supposed to “want” to associate with that party, however. This would only be an issue if a well known Republican or Democrat declared they wished to vote in the other party’s primary.


No declared affiliation.

Hijack, of sorts. My wife has attempted to register 4 times since we moved here, and she’s been rejected each time because ‘did not meet residency requirements’. AFAIK, you only have to be here 60 days, and not be a convicted felon to meet residency. Her first attempt to register was 6 months after moving in.

What can she do about this, short of busting clerk’s heads?

In Australia you enroll on the electoral roll when you are 18 and only have to notify the Australian Electoral Commission if you move to another electorate. This means you fill in a form with your new details and send it post free to the AEC. You don’t declare anything until you vote. It is really easy to vote here.

Yes and no.

One big difference between elections in Australia and the US is that party candidates in the US are chosen by primaries conducted by the state. Generally, any voter who has registered as a party supporter can vote in those primaries – and in some states, you can vote in the primary of another party. In Australia, party candidates are chosen by preselections, conducted by and within the political parties. The state has nothing to do with them at all, and the numbers voting in preselections is pretty low: in some parties, the voting is done by internal party committees, and in others it is done by the general party membership, i.e, thoser who pay a membership fee and satusfy other obligations of party membership.

So in many primaries, Republican voters could not vote for Kerry, because they could only vote in the Republican primary. (And in 2004 that was pretty meaningless, since Bush was almost certan to be the candidate). However, in the election on Nov. 2, they can vote for Kerry rather than Bush if they wish to, just as registered democrats can vote for Bush, or Nader, or any other candidate.

New Hampshire.


But you do if you want to vote in the primaries and what’s the fun of living in NH without that :slight_smile: ?

:confused: Do you mean in the primaries? I don’t understand this bit.

New York, and no.

I’m new to the state, so I’m confused as well. But yes, I mean the primary election. If you declare you’re a Republican and then vote for a Democratic candidate, your ballot is not counted. As I understand it, WA had “open primaries” until this year. That is, anyone could vote for anyone. Thanks to a lawsuit in California, the process was declared unconstitutional. I haven’t looked into it, but I think the argument was that if you allow Democrats to vote for Republicans then the Republicans may not put be able to put forward their “best candidate” in the general election because the Democrats may have “sabotaged” the process by voting for the person least likely to win against their own candidate. (Of course, the same applies to Republicans voting for Democrats.)

The open primary process tended, as I understand it, to allow more moderate candidates to stand in the general election, because candidates with more extreme positions would tend to be weeded out by the opposition. I think this was perceived as a violation of “free speech” because the Parties would not be “allowed” by the voters to field a candidate that is in lockstep with their platform. Voters up here are angry at the new rules, since they have the absurd idea that they should be able to choose whomever they want to represent them. Assuming that most voters are Moderates, they resent having to choose in the general election between less moderate candidates.

As I said, I’m new here and don’t really have a grasp of the situation; so I may be misinterpreting.


This has been kind of a controversy in recent elections. A voter has the option, but is not required to designate a party when registering. Up until (I think) 2000, you could vote in either primary, regardless of party affiliation (known as “open primaries”).

Then the state Republican convention ruled that henceforth only registered Republicans could vote in the Republican primary(“closed primaries”). Their expressed concern was that Democrats, being very much a minority in Utah politics, would ignore their own primary and cross over to vote for the Republican candidate they felt would be easiest to defeat.

We now have a closed Republican primary, and an open Democratic primary, and it always leads to complaints by voters who feel they are Republican at heart, but don’t want to declare it on their voter registration form, so they wind up sitting out the primary.

… call the clerk’s office and ask why she doesn’t meet the residency requirements?

Washington State - no. Absolutely not. They’d better not dare. The idea of having to declare a party on registering to vote would never fly here.

This year, for the first time in 70 years, we had to make a party declaration while we were voting in the primary (open primary) instead of just voting for whomever we wanted to (blanket primary). Estimates and polls say that 80% (or so) of the voters really hated that. So, chances are, we’re going for a Louisiana style primary soon. (Rumors are that much of the west coast will, too.)

New York. When you register, you can:

according to the NYC Board website. We have closed primaries here–only party members are allowed to vote for people in their party. Now, some candidates will get themselves on the ballot for a couple of parties (Democrats are often also on the Liberal line, for example) so people from both parties can vote for them, but usually not. This year on Super Tuesday (bitter irony) there was a primary only for lesser candidates than President for Republicans, and Presidential for Democrats.

In MA, you could do that thing where you could walk in, register in a party, vote for it, unregister, and walk out. The designation was “unenrolled”, which to me was a bit confusing. But Unenrolled was the 2nd-biggest party in the state, with registered Repubs about 1/3 their size in the 90’s.

I’d always thought of Australia as a raucous democracy and am surprised that party bosses present the voters with fait accompli candidates, chosen in the proverbial “smoke-filled rooms”. Americans got sick of that and started primaries mid-20th-century or so.