Delaware is one of only nine states with a closed primary system – in which only voters who are affiliated with a political party are allowed to vote in that party’s primary election. This Friday, May 27 is the deadline to choose or change party registration before the primary election.
Almost one-fourth of First State voters are not currently affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican Party. These voters will not be able to vote in the September 13 primary unless they choose to register with one of the two major parties before this Friday.
More than 170,000 Delawareans are currently registered with “no party” affiliation. Another 18,000+ voters are affiliated with minor political parties that will not have primaries.
Delaware is one of only three states with closed primaries that require voters to choose a party affiliation before the candidates’ deadline to file nomination papers. Delaware, Kentucky and New York all have party registration deadlines that occur before voters know who will be running in the primary elections.
Voters who wish to change their party affiliation can do so online at ivote.de.gov.
Statement of Common Cause Delaware Executive Director Claire Snyder-Hall
Our ‘government by the people’ is stronger and more representative when voters participate fully in the electoral process.
But between Delaware’s closed primary system and our extra-early deadline to choose a political party, almost one-quarter of First State voters could be locked out of our September primaries.
Summer hasn’t even started yet, so relatively few voters are likely to be thinking about this fall’s elections. Even so, First State voters should be aware of Friday’s deadline and be able to make an informed choice about whether they will participate in – or sit out – the September primary elections.
Whoever is elected in November needs to represent all of us – and that means all of us need to vote. But relatively few of us vote in primary elections.
All of the past five primary elections have had less than 25% voter turnout. The 2018 midterm primaries had less than 17.5% turnout. So a very small number of Delawareans decide who the candidates are, that the rest of us get to choose between in November.
That’s not how ‘government by the people’ is supposed to work.
We urge all First State voters who have not picked a party affiliation to do so, before Friday. And we urge all voters affiliated with the two major parties to make plans to vote in the primary on September 13.