Can Independents Vote In The Indiana Primary? It's Good News For Bernie Sanders

On Tuesday, the Hoosier State's independents are in luck, because Indiana's primary is open. In other words, voters won't have to register with the Republican or Democratic Party in order to cast their votes. And unlike Rhode Island's voters on Acela Tuesday, they won't have to disaffiliate from the Party they supported. In fact, Indiana might just be one of the most voter-friendly states in the nation. For Bernie Sanders, this is especially good news. In addition to holding open primaries, it also allows its residents to vote early on the Saturday and Sunday preceding the official election day. On May 3, polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. local time.

Closed primary systems, along with voter registration laws, have proven undesirable for progressive candidates like Sanders. The Washington Post, for example, estimated that Sanders received more votes from independents than from registered party members in states like Oklahoma, Michigan, and New Hampshire. In other states, registering to vote in a closed primary is a surprisingly tedious process.

In New York, for example, independent voters must side with a party six months before the primary election arrives. And if the deadline for registration isn't met, that voter loses his or her privilege to have a say in who the nation's next presidential nominee should be. Over a quarter of the Empire State's 10.7 million registered voters had not met the deadline. This was just one of the factors that contributed to Sanders' huge loss in his birth state. If he loses a majority of Indiana's 92 Democratic delegates, he'll fall even further behind.

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Expect the Hoosier State's independent voters to affect the Democrats' vote count more than that of the GOP candidates. Indiana's election, however, will be significant for other reasons uniquely pertaining to the Republican party. The state offers 57 Republican delegates that are distributed in a winner-take-all manner. With 987 delegates in the bag, Trump only has to score 250 more. If the real-estate mogul wins Indiana by even a small margin, he will be over a fifth of the way towards victory.

In the meantime, Ted Cruz and John Kasich have teamed up to stop that from happening. As a part of their scheme to trigger a contested convention, the two opponents have chosen to split up the campaign trail. Cruz has jurisdiction in Indiana, and Kasich will focus on New Mexico and Oregon. According to the polls, the race will be close as Trump leads Cruz by just 6.3 points, at the time of writing. It remains to be seen whether Cruz's recent announcement — Carly Fiorina is now his running mate — will affect the vote.