Short version

Does any country apart from the USA have a voter registry that includes an option to register with a specific party?

Long version

In the United States, when people register to vote, they can apparently register with a particular party (or as independent; or maybe they can decline to answer). In some states, this list is apparently public. From what I understand, this may or may not impact people's ability to vote in primary elections. I am not asking why this system exists in the USA (that is addressed here), so how or why this happens in the USA exactly is not relevant to my question.

This public registry strikes me as very weird. Although it doesn't directly determine election outcome, many of the reasons why secret ballot is important would also apply to party registration (people could be bullied or paid to register with a particular party, companies could discriminate against people registered with a particular party, etc.).

How unique is publicly registering to vote with a particular party? Is this exclusively American or do there exist other countries with a similar system?

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    I think that in many European (and probably many other countries in the world as well), party affiliation is immediately assumed to be equal to a 'vote' for that party in all elections and on all matters (referendums and such). Also, most people who participate are generally considered to belonging to party. In some countries, there may not be any other option - i.e. you have to declare a party affiliation to take part in the process. On the other hand, in the U.S., the plurality of voters are registered as independent. Many may never vote for a major party candidate, but many will.
    – ouflak
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 7:42
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    As you wrote, the existence of private party membership lists is quite common (after all, how else would you distinguish members from non-members). Now, whether these are public or not is indeed an interesting question!
    – xyldke
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 7:44
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    Does this answer your question? Why are people asked for their party affiliation when registering to vote in the United States?
    – ouflak
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 11:07
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    I think you need to think about updating the question. As it stands, it has an incorrect premise. Party registration rules differ state to state. Additionally, party registration has no impact on voting in the general elections. If your question concerns primary elections, you need to specify that or ask a separate question as primary elections are not a function of the state, but a private event.
    – David S
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 15:34
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    In all states except North Dakota, one has to be registered to vote in order to vote. What @hszmv was referring to is the motor voter law. The intent was to make it easier to register to vote. Registering to vote does not necessarily entail registering with a party. Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 4:52

2 Answers 2


This is an interesting question and I spent a while digging into it. I believe the short answer to your question is that choosing a party while registering to vote is pretty unique to the United States.

While some things compulsory voter registration and compulsory voting are not unique and there are a wide variety of voter registration techniques different countries (and states) use, I found very little to suggest that party registration is as common a component of that process in other countries as it is in the united states. In fact, using the "registering with a political party" semantics you use to search for information seemed to exclusively yield information specific to the United States. This may be because I'm searching in English and from a US IP address however I played with the phrasing quite a bit in order to get international results and still had no luck.

Also, as noted by some commenters, voter registration/party lists in the US are not quite as public as you might think. I found this great breakdown by state that shares each US state's usage restrictions and what they keep confidential, as well as links to each's process for obtaining the data. That being said, these look like small hurdles for any individual or group with significant resources and weight behind them so I think your "public" premise basically holds.

Back to your question though, I also realized there's another way to research this: open vs closed primaries. Because...

In a closed primary, only persons who are registered members of a political party may vote the ballot of that political party.

California: No party preference

So, based on that definition, assumably anywhere there are closed primaries then there's a much larger incentive for people to register for a party (so they can vote on the potentially larger pool of candidates before the election). There seems to be a lot more data on this, and here it seems pretty conclusive that closed primaries are not unique to the US...

Closed primaries happen in many European countries, while open primaries have so far only occurred in the socialist and social-democratic parties in Greece and Italy, whereas France's Socialist Party organised the first open primary in France in October 2011.

That being said, the party choice is a. not public and b. not part of initial voter registration in those countries as far as I could tell. So, I think my initial "short answer" above still holds unless someone can provide evidence to the contrary (in which case I'm happy to edit this answer). Also note that even in the US, we seem to be heading more towards open primaries and there are a number of groups advocating against and/or discussing the topic...


Frame challenge, I think you are missunderstanding what registering for a political party actually does. It doesn't restrict your votes in the actual election in any way and these votes are secret. It is more comparable to putting a sign on your lawn advertising for a political party. In both cases you are making a public statement that you support a particular political party. Whether you actually vote for them is independent of that statement and will remain secret.

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    @Lykanion It is my understanding that you need to register with party if you want to vote in their primary but that is a party internal vote where the party choses their candidate. For the actual state elections no registration with any party is required.
    – quarague
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 8:48
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    This doesn't answer my question, nor does it tell me anything I didn't already know, nor does it contradict anything implied in the question. And AIUI registering for a political party is required to vote in primary elections for that party, so although the registration does not restrict votes in the general election, it does restrict votes in the primary election. In the two-party system, primary elections can be very important — and many places in the US are "safe seats" and thus de facto one-party systems, making primaries even more important.
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 9:39
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    @gerrit As with so much in the USA, whether you are required to be registered for a particular party to vote in their primary differs state by state. In some states with "open primaries" voters (or in some only independent voters) can choose which to vote in at some or all primary elections. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_primaries_in_the_United_States
    – origimbo
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 10:46
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    @gerrit That depends on the state but registering with a party can help show that party how much support it has in any given area which can impact how they do things.
    – Joe W
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 16:35
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    Additionally some states use "jungle primaries" where all candidates are voted regardless of the two parties and the two candidates who receive the biggest plurality of votes will run against each other for the same seat. Because the primary is non-partisan, it's not uncommon for the general election to be a vote between two candidates of the same party.
    – hszmv
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 17:11

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