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A sign near the ARCH building encouraging people to vote in Pennsylvania's 2022 midterm elections.

Credit: Liliann Zou

You should be voting Republican in 2024. Of course, not necessarily in the general election — I would never be so crass as to tell you who to vote for — but if you care about politics and the future of the United States enough to vote, care about policy more than political entertainment, or think the country is more divided than in the last half-century, I strongly encourage you to consider voting in the GOP 2024 primaries.

Why? It comes down to a matter of vote maximization. At the time of writing, in the 2024 Presidential Election Democratic Party primary, Joe Biden faces no serious challenger, just as no sitting president for the last 167 years has lost their party’s support.

Thus, since Joe Biden will be on the ticket, if you want to maximize your vote, you should be voting in the GOP primary, so you get a say in who else is on the general election ticket. 

This voting strategy is universally optimal for incumbent elections — conventional wisdom shows the sway of the incumbency advantage is too important for factors such as campaign donations. By staying and voting in the party of the incumbent, you are losing out on some of your say in the presidential election under our primary and first-past-the-post system. Let me be clear: This action is not partisan but practical, an inevitability under the current, potentially problematic system of presidential elections. It equally made sense to vote Democrat in the 2020 primary.

Further, if you are a moderate on either side of the political spectrum, it may make sense to consistently vote for the party with which you least agree. Under the current system, primaries determine who is going to be on the general ticket. 

For example, imagine a scenario in which one side’s candidates are all just OK to you with one that you like a little better than the others. The other side’s candidates are either totally insane to you or just slightly worse than OK. In these situations — one faced by many moderates — it rationally would make sense for you to vote for the slightly worse than OK candidate in the primary to give yourself a more favorable outlook during the general election.

Critics of this crossover voting strategy in both cases call it party raiding. They say it makes it "almost impossible to run a party" and generally consider it bad faith. Given that many Americans view members of the other party in an increasingly negative light, some also might be afraid of being publicly registered under the party with which they least agree.

The problem with these criticisms is that they themselves are built upon an idea of polarization. It is not bad faith to join a party one year because the other fails to hold a meaningful primary, which you dislike, and then vote for the candidate you most agree with in an election. 

Nor is it bad faith to be registered for the party for which you care more about the outcome of their primary election. Some may say that doing so is just trying to sabotage another candidate, but that assumes you would never vote for the person you voted for in the primary. For example, if you are a moderate left-winger and voted in this election in the GOP primary for Nikki Haley rather than Ron DeSantis or Donald Trump, it should not be assumed, even if you currently prefer Joe Biden to Nikki Haley, who you will be voting for in the general election. There is nearly a full year until then (depending on the primary and when you must register to the party to vote), and it is theoretically possible that Joe Biden could do something — or something could come to light about his campaign — that would make you prefer the GOP candidate. If that GOP candidate were to be the one you voted for in the primary, this chance is, in theory, even more likely.

While it may practically make sense to be concerned about publicly being registered in a party you disagree with, this fear only enforces polarization. If someone were to ever ask you about it, you could always explain yourself (or link this article), but you also should not have to. You have a right to a secret ballot

Thus, if you wanted to start voting in this more rational, less polarizing way, how would you do this?

There are currently nine closed primary states in the United States, including Pennsylvania, which prevent members of the opposite political party and non-party affiliated voters from voting in the primary. Thus, you would have to register for the GOP in these states a varying number of days before the election if you haven't already: 

Delaware: Feb. 2 (59 days before the April 2 primary)

Florida: Feb. 19 (29 days before the March 19 primary)

Kentucky: Dec. 31st (Dec. 31 of year before primary)

Nebraska: April 25 (Third Friday before the election)

Nevada: Jan. 9 (28 days before the Feb. 6 primary unless same day in-person)

New Mexico: May 7 (28 days before June4 primary unless same day in-person)

New York: Feb. 14 (Feb. 14 of year of primary)

Pennsylvania: April 8 (15 days before April 23 primary, but might be moving earlier)

West Virginia: April 23 (21 days before May 14 primary)

There are 10 states which are so-called “partially closed” primaries meaning parties decide in advance of the specific primary each time there is a primary if unaffiliated voters will be allowed in the primary elections. Thus, you would have to register for the GOP or as unaffiliated (if allowed) in these states before a varying number of days before the election if you have not already:

California: Feb. 20 (register GOP 15 days before the March 5 primary; unaffiliated not allowed)

Connecticut: Jan. 2 (register GOP three months before the April 2 primary; unaffiliated not allowed)

Idaho: March 15 (register GOP/unaffiliated by last day for candidate filing; unaffiliated can register as GOP on election day)

Louisiana: Feb. 21 (register GOP 30 days before March 23 primary; unaffiliated not allowed)

Maryland: April 23 (register GOP before close of advanced voter registration; unaffiliated not allowed)

North Carolina: Feb. 9 (register GOP/unaffiliated 25 days before the March 5 primary; unaffiliated allowed)

Oklahoma: Feb. 9 (register GOP 24 days before March 5; unaffiliated not allowed)

Oregon: April 30 (register GOP 21 days before primary; unaffiliated not allowed)

South Dakota: May 20 (register GOP 15 days before the June 4 primary; unaffiliated not allowed)

Utah: Jan. 7 (register GOP/unaffiliated five days after Jan. 2; unaffiliated not allowed, but can register as GOP on election day)

There are seven states for which either primary is open to unaffiliated voters all the time, though these voters cannot vote in both primaries: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Thus, one should register as unaffiliated or GOP, then vote GOP.

There are seven states which are open but require declared affiliation with the GOP which can be updated when you vote in the primary: Illinois, New Jersey, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Washington, and Wyoming.

There are 15 open primary states where no further work is required to vote in the GOP primary if registered to vote: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Alaska and Hawaii do not have a primary election for president, instead having a Republican caucus for which members must be a Republican but can register the day of the caucus on either March 5 or March 12, respectively.

Please consider registering for the GOP if necessary, voting for the GOP in the 2024 primary, and potentially beyond in order to maximize your hard-fought constitutional right to vote for the candidate you think is most fit to be president of the United States.

SPENCER GIBBS is a College and Engineering junior studying philosophy, politics, and economics and systems engineering from Tallahassee, Fla. His email is