So, lets say I register for Party, and vote in the primaries for a candidate. If that candidate doesn't proceed to the general elections, is there any reason that I am obligated to then vote for the candidate in Party who I didn't want?

I rather a candidate from Party, but not that candidate from Party, and would vote against Party if it meant keeping that candidate out of office.

Read between the lines as you will. :)

  • 6
    Obviously not because secret ballot.
    – Joshua
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 18:54
  • 2
    You don't like Clinton?? Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 23:10
  • I wonder if this confusion is behind some of the growing numbers of people registering independent? There's really no drawback to registering for a party, and in most places its the only way you get a voice in who the parties nominate.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 14:26

3 Answers 3

  1. The only part of the US electoral process that is guided by specific rules is the vote by the electors (and even then, only pledged electors. And even THEN, they can act the role of "faithless elector").

    You, as a private citizen voting in general election, do NOT fall under this stage, and thus have no restrictions whatsoever on who you choose to vote for. Any such restrictions would be extremely illegal/unconstitutional.

  2. Specific to your question, primaries in USA are private events, organized by a private organization (DNC or RNC or some other faction). What you do in relation to that private event is absolutely irrelevant to what you do in actual elections (also, see #1).

  • 1
    "Any such restrictions would be extremely illegal/unconstitutional" - as Wikipedia would say, [citation needed].
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 2:06
  • Wait, obviously anyone can vote for anyone in the general election. But don't the parties host the primaries? And could those parties then not allow people who intended to vote for the other party to vote in their primaries? I feel like I've heard about something like that where I was thinking, "Man, that should totally be illegal", but I might be misremembering...
    – user45266
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 4:27
  • ...never mind, that was "you can only vote in one party's primary". My bad.
    – user45266
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 4:29

You're never obligated to vote for anybody, period. What you do in the little booth is entirely up to you, and any attempt to coerce your vote through a contract, threat, registration, or otherwise would be illegal.

So, you can vote for whoever you like in the primaries, and still vote for whoever you like in the general election.

  • 2
    I will emphasize that if you voted for a candidate in the primary, and that candidate became the nominee, you are still free vote for anyone on the ballet, or write in your own candidate, or not to vote at all. Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 19:26
  • Also note that this is based on US elections. I believe some countries require voting. Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 19:27
  • @MichaelRichardson Yes, the question is explicitly about the USA so it seems reasonable that answers would be specific to the USA, too. Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 22:23

Some primaries are closed, such as many Republican primaries, however the general election is open no matter what party you register as

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