Can Independents Vote In the Delaware Primary? Only If You Made This Deadline
Five states will hold presidential primaries Tuesday, including the two smallest states in the United States. Delaware has the honor of being 943.83 square miles larger than the nation's tiniest state, Rhode Island, but it's by no means large. Despite its size, however, the state has welcomed a flurry of campaign activity from this election's five presidential candidates as the petite state prepares for its primary. With both the Democratic and the Republican race heavily contested this year, every delegate matters and candidates are looking to mobilize their support base to garner as many votes as possible. But can Independents vote in the Delaware Primary?
Both parties host closed primaries in the state of Delaware, meaning voters registered as Independents won't be able to participate. According to Delaware's Department of Elections, only registered Democrats or Republicans can head to polling locations to cast ballots on Tuesday. Furthermore, only Democrats are allowed to vote in the Democratic primary, and only Republicans are allowed to vote in the Republican primary. Eligible voters would have had to register as a member of their chosen party (Democrat or Republican) by April 2 in order to participate in that party's presidential primary, according to the News Journal.
The state will send 31 total delegates — 21 of whom will serve as pledged delegates allocated proportionately according to a statewide vote — to the Democratic National Convention. With Sen. Bernie Sanders' string of wins in late March and early April instilling a competitive energy back into the Democratic primary, Delaware's delegates aren't enough for either candidate to really lock down the nomination. That being said, they could help narrow or widen the gap between current front-runner Hillary Clinton and Sanders. It's worth noting, however, that Sanders has often drawn a significant portion of his support from Independents voting in open primaries. His campaign is likely hoping Delaware's April 2 party registration deadline gave potential Independent supporters plenty of time to switch parties.
The Republican National Convention will see 16 delegates from Delaware, awarded in a winner-take-all system that is based on a statewide vote. According to the political polling blog FiveThirtyEight, "Delaware’s votes are surprisingly high-leverage" due to the ratio of voters to delegates and "a Republican vote in Delaware is worth about four times more than one in Florida." The Delaware Republican Party's winner-take-all delegate allocation system makes a sweep easy.
Although small, Delaware remains a bit of a political mystery during this primary season. No polls have been done in the state, so it's unclear which candidates will come out on top after ballots are counted. Delaware Sen. Chris Coons has thrown his support behind Clinton, helping to open her campaign headquarters in the state nearly two weeks ago as state representatives Kim Williams and John Kowalko visited the Sanders' campaign headquarters, the News Journal reported. On the opposite side of the aisle, Kasich was endorsed by a few Republican leaders in the state.