By Jim Ellis
Feb. 26, 2020 — One factor for the coming March 3 Super Tuesday primary elections that hasn’t received any discussion is whether or not the open voting system will have a major effect upon the final results. Though only 24 states around the country feature open, or semi-open, primaries, all but two of the 15 Super Tuesday states lie in this category.
For purposes of this column, South Carolina, scheduled for this Saturday and the prelude to the mega-state vote, is added to the Super Tuesday roster because of its close proximity. America Samoa, which also holds its nomination election on March 3, is a caucus.
An open primary is one where any voter may choose to participate in the nomination election of his or her choice. In these states, voters typically are not registered by political party and can select either a Democratic or Republican ballot. A semi-closed primary is one where registered party members must stay in their respective party primary, but the unaffiliated, or Independent, voter may choose the primary in which to participate. A closed primary allows only individuals who are registered in a particular political party to vote in their respective nomination election.
Pertaining to Super Tuesday, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia are the open primary states. The semi-opens are Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Utah.
The two closed presidential primaries for the big day are California and Maine. Despite California featuring the ultimate open primary system in their regular elections, where everyone receives the same ballot and the top two finishers advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation and percentage attained, only registered party members may vote in their respective presidential primary. Therefore, in the national nomination contest, where the top-two system is not recognized for delegate allocation, the Golden State reverts to the closed procedure.