When I registered to vote as an 18 year old, I registered as a Democrat, voted in the Democratic primary and rarely voted off the Democratic ticket in the general elections. My state's voting rules didn't seem strange to me because they were all I knew growing up in Pennsylvania.
In 2006, I left Pennsylvania for Washington State and was confused when filling out my voter registration form. Where was I supposed to fill in my party preference? You mean, I could choose a Republican candidate in the primary even if I usually feel more like a Democrat? Compounding my confusion was the fact that in Washington, candidates don't state their party affiliation on the ballot. It's easy enough to figure out where they stand based on their statements, but they are not required to state their party preference on the actual ballot.
Since living in Seattle for the past five years, my views have crept ever so slightly to the right side of the political spectrum. In Seattle this never posed a problem for my voting. Now that I am back in Philadelphia and about to vote, I'm not sure how to register, Republican or Democrat?
Today's Democratic Party has few fractures in it. For the most part, democratic candidates and members of Congress have similar views. The Republican party though is a completely different story. Most notably there is the Tea Party faction as well as various religious fundamental spin-offs. Generally speaking, the Democratic Party puts forth reasonable candidates for the big elections. (In this instance I am referring not to political views but to general appeal and marketability.) The Republicans however, have the old-school "small government" members; John McCain, Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Bob Dole etc. but they are being threatened by the extremists; Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Sam Brownback, Jan Brewer etc.
If you use the old adage, "If you don't vote, you can't complain," it would seem that I should register as a Republican and vote for the least extreme candidate regardless of whether or not I would vote for them in actual election. Put simply, in this election, I care more about making sure that certain candidates do not become President.
So, if I found out a way to game the system, why do states use this voting method?