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How does party affiliation affect Indiana's primary elections?

A voter at a voting machine.
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
Indiana does not register people by political party, meaning it has what are called open primaries — any voter can take a Republican or Democratic ballot in the primary.

Can a registered Democrat vote Republican in Indiana’s primary? Can someone vote in both party primaries, for different offices?

Those are questions from listeners that came in after a political centrist group put up billboards encouraging Democrats to vote in the Republican primary this year.

Indiana is one of about two dozen states that does not register people by political party. There are no registered Democrats, Republicans or anything else.

That means Indiana has what are called open primaries — any registered voter can choose a Democratic or Republican ballot. State law does say that primary voters must have voted in the last general election for “a majority of the regular nominees of the political party” whose ballot they chose, or intend to do so in the next general election. But there’s no way to check that, making it virtually impossible to enforce.

READ MORE: Indiana’s 2024 primary is May 7. What do I need on Election Day?

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 765-275-1120. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues and the election, including our project Civically, Indiana.

You can’t vote for different parties in the same primary election — if you choose a Republican ballot, you’ll only have access to GOP candidates, and the same for Democrats.

There is a nonpartisan option in Indiana primaries. If there are any public questions on the primary ballot, like school referendums, you can choose to only vote on those.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.