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Understanding Primary Elections: Primaries and Caucuses, What Are They?

Primaries and Caucuses are two ways that people help states and political parties choose presidential nominees.

Pennsylvania uses a Primary system:

Pennsylvania has a closed Primary system - meaning only declared party members can participate, for example, Republicans or Democrats voting for who they want to represent their respective Party in the General Election.

Some states use open primary systems- meaning all registered voters, including Independents, can participate regardless of party affiliation.


Some states use a Caucus system:

Caucuses are private meetings run by political parties. They are held at the county, district, or precinct level. Most participants divide themselves into groups according to the candidate they support. Ultimately, the number of voters in each group determines how many delegates each candidate will have at their National Party Convention.


A word about delegates:

State parties send delegates to the national conventions and select those delegates through the Primaries and Caucuses. In Pennsylvania voters in Primaries select the delegates for the National Party Conventions. If you can vote in the primaries, make sure to cast your vote and have your voice heard in selecting the presidential nominees and other offices on the ballot.


Click here if you or someone in your household needs to register to vote or here to apply for a mail-in ballot.

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