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banner Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 17:42 GMT
Primary
Primary voting
Primaries are held for presidential and congressional races
A state level election held before a general election to nominate a party's candidate for office.

Primaries are held for both the presidential and congressional races, although the exact regulations governing them and the dates on which they are held vary from state to state.

In some states voters are restricted to choosing candidates only from the party for which they have registered support.

However 29 states permit "open primaries" in which a voter may opt to back a candidate regardless of their nominal affiliation.

In this case strategic voting may take place with, for example, Republicans crossing over to back the perceived weaker Democratic candidate.

Primaries first emerged as a result of the so-called "progressive movement" of the early 20th century, which argued that leaving the nomination process purely to party bosses was inherently undemocratic.

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20 Feb 00 | C-D
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