The general definition of the term primary means preliminary, first, or most important. It’s really no different in regard to a primary election, which is the preliminary step in the process of electing a candidate running for office in the United States. Many other countries follow different systems, but a primary election is held in the U.S. to see who will receive the nomination from his or her political party during the convention. The candidate who receives the nomination, will run against the candidate nominated by the other parties in the general election.
many people skip the primary election and only vote in the general election, many of them complaining that their party’s candidate is not the one they would have chosen. People who take their vote seriously need to find out when the primary election is held in their state so they have a voice in selecting the candidate.
There are two main types of primaries, closed or open, that determine who is eligible to vote in the primary. In a closed primary a registered voter may vote only in the election for the party with which that voter is affiliated. For example a voter registered as Democratic can vote only in the Democratic primary and a Republican can vote only in the Republican primary. In an open primary, on the other hand, a registered voter can vote in either primary regardless of party membership. The voter cannot, however, participate in more than one primary. A third less common type of primary, the blanket primary, allows registered voters to participate in all primaries.
In addition to differences in which voters are eligible to vote in the primary, there are differences in whether the ballot lists candidate or delegate names. The presidential preference primary is a direct vote for a specific candidate. The voter chooses the candidate by name. The second method is more indirect, giving the voter a choice among delegate names rather than candidate names. As in the caucus, delegates voice support for a particular candidate or remain uncommitted.
In some states a combination of the primary and caucus systems are used. The primary serves as a measure of public opinion but is not necessarily binding in choosing delegates. Sometimes the Party does not recognize open primaries because members of other parties are permitted to vote.