Voting in the Primaries? Here’s How to Register as a Republican

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If you’re a politically engaged American, you may reach a point when you wish to become more involved in U.S. politics. There are a number of ways to get more active on a local level, from attending city council meetings to writing your local representative or state senator. Partisanship indirectly leaks into a number of other activities, as well. From joining the NRA to volunteering at Planned Parenthood, putting effort toward causes that are politically charged is another way to be active in the conversation.

Alongside protests and lobbying, voting is the most obvious form of participation, apart from actually going into political office. That means you may decide you want to vote in presidential or congressional primaries. Not all states require you to be registered with a certain party in order to vote in primaries, but many do. Additionally, some states that have semi-closed primaries will restrict your voting based on your membership, whereas if you do not have a declared membership, you can chose which primary to vote in if you tend toward a moderate, independent, or middle-of-the-road identity.

Do I need to register in my state?

As of 2012, has kept a collection of each state’s rules for each political party. Twenty-four states have closed primaries for Republicans and seven have semi-closed primaries, meaning you’ll want to check on your state’s rules and decide if registering is necessary. Even better than that would be to go to your state’s Republican Party page — each has one, from Michigan to California to New York. If anyone is motivated to help you vote Republican, it’s the party itself.

Of course, there are other reasons to register beyond the primaries, and even if you don’t need to, you may still want to. For one thing, joining a party opens doors to meetings and events with like-minded individuals; this advantage is most easily gained by going through the party itself. Find your local or national party website, meet leaders in your community, attend a few meetings, talk with people, etc.

Joining a mailing list is also a good way to find new and unique opportunities for supporting your party and the candidates you feel strongly about. Of course, you don’t have to go the whole nine yards: You can register as a member of the GOP and vote in primary elections without painting your face red or riding an elephant to work. However, if you’re looking to be active in the community as well, there are a great number of resources available to help you get started.

How do I go about registering?

This is where it gets a little bit tricky — though not that tricky. In fact, in some cases, “registering” with a certain party simply means showing up to the polls and checking a box, then voting within the Republican ballot. For others, you must register your party membership anywhere from a day to a month in advance of primaries.

Some states allow you to register at the polls, while others, like Nevada, require you to register your party affiliation at the same time as you register to vote. As you fill out your initial voter registration information, you also include which party you identify with, or if you do not wish to be affiliated. Pennsylvania has a similar policy. Of course, if you change your mind and wish to change your affiliation, you can simply submit a new registration form and check “Change Party.”

An excellent resource for navigating your state’s primaries, registration rules, and deadlines for registering is Rock the Vote.

Follow Anthea on Twitter @AntheaWSCS

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