What is a presidential primary?

Presidential primary elections and caucuses are held in each U.S. state and territory. They’re part of the nominating process for presidential candidates. This process was never included in the U. S. Constitution, but was created over time by the major political parties. In Connecticut, both parties, Democratic and Republican, are having a presidential primary on April 26. Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania will also hold their presidential primaries on that date.

Some states hold only primary elections, some hold only caucuses, and others use a combination of both. In Connecticut, primary elections are run by state and local governments. In general, the primaries determine how many national convention delegates are pledged to each candidate, according to party rules. These delegates, in turn, select their party's presidential nominee at the party’s national convention.

Who’s on the ballot?

Candidates on the Connecticut ballot, in the order chosen by lottery by the secretary of the state are:

Democratic: Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Uncommitted

Republican: Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Donald J. Trump, John R. Kasich, and Uncommitted

Ben Carson is on the Republican ballot since he did not officially withdraw his candidacy in Connecticut by the state deadline. Rocky De La Fuente petitioned onto the Democratic ballot in Connecticut. The number of “Uncommitted” votes determines the number of uncommitted delegates to the party’s convention.

Who is eligible to vote?

Connecticut’s presidential primaries are called “closed” primaries: only enrolled Republicans and Democrats may vote in this primary. If you are not yet registered to vote, or if you are an unaffiliated voter who has not been a member of any other party for 90 days, it may not be too late to register, enroll, and vote in the primary. New voters and unaffiliated voters may submit a mail-in or online voter registration application by April 21, (postmarked) or April 25 in person by noon. Call the registrars’ office for more details at 563-0111.  

Where will the presidential primaries be held in Wilton?

All three of Wilton’s polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Primary Day.  Both the Democratic and Republican parties will share each polling place. District 1 votes at Wilton High School (Clune Center), District 2 at Cider Mill School (Main Gym), and District 3 at the Middlebrook School Gym.

School will be in session that day, so voters are reminded that school bus lanes will be busy at arrival and dismissal times. Be sure to bring your identification when you come to vote.


This is a series of columns in which the Wilton League of Women Voters discusses commonly asked questions about Wilton’s town meetings and elections. The League is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government. Information: wiltonlwv.org  or write to P.O. Box 71, Wilton, CT 06897.