The Basics: Texas Primary Elections

What is a primary election?

In Texas, the two major political parties – Democratic and Republican – hold primary elections to decide who will represent them on Election Day in November. The November “General Election” decides who gets to hold office.

When is the primary election in Texas?

In 2020, the election takes place Tuesday, March 3. Early voting locations are open from Feb. 18 to Feb. 28.

Does the candidate with the most votes in the primary election get to run in November?

Not necessarily. In Texas, a candidate must win a majority to become the party’s nominee. If no candidate gets more than half the votes, the two candidates with the most votes take part in a runoff election. This year, runoffs are set for Tuesday, May 26.

Why is the primary election so early – a full eight months before Election Day?

The Legislature sets the date. A major reason for the early “Super Tuesday” vote is to give Texas more influence in choosing nominees for president.

How do I know if I am eligible to vote in a primary election?

That’s easy. Texas has “open primaries.” That means any eligible voter may choose to participate in the Democratic or Republican primary. But be careful: If you vote in a primary of the political party of your choice, you MAY NOT vote in the other party’s runoff election.

What about other political parties?

So-called “third parties” have their own processes for choosing nominees and may also appear on the ballot in November.