Voting Is Bewildering This Primary Season. That Worries Experts.

Democracy is messy, but usually not this messy.

Take, for example, New Hampshire, where President Biden boycotted the primary election last Tuesday, after the state jumped the line in the Democratic Party’s new schedule to keep its first-in-the-nation primary status. Because it would have been embarrassing if Mr. Biden had lost there, a group of supporters took to telling voters that, while he might not be asking for their vote, he didn’t not want it. Could you please write in his name? (They did, and he won.)

Next on the primary calendar is South Carolina, on Feb. 3, but only if you’re a Democrat. If you’re a Republican there, you will not vote until Feb. 24, after fellow party members in Nevada have their say.

Oh, and about Nevada: If you support Nikki Haley, you can vote for her in the state’s primary on Feb. 6, but your vote will not count toward the Republican nomination. That is tied to the party’s caucuses on Feb. 8, and Ms. Haley will not be part of that process. If you support former President Donald J. Trump, you can vote for him in the caucuses, but not in the primary. The primary, which is run by the State of Nevada, will be conducted by mail, while the caucuses will be in person. That’s because the Nevada Republican Party opposed conducting the primary by mail, which is part of why it scheduled the caucuses to begin with.

Got it?

As voters enter an election year in which many feel that democracy itself is on the ballot, they face a bewildering set of dates and procedures to choose their presidential nominees. And that’s without even getting into the longtime snag of some states’ scheduling separate primaries for president and other offices, as well as special elections, all of which adds up to some voters having as many as five Election Days.

“It’s all very confusing for us, even as people who are elections people,” said Virginia Kase Solomón, the chief executive of the League of Women Voters, which runs the voter information website Vote411.org.

A large body of research suggests that the morass could reduce participation.

“Anything that disrupts voter habits will diminish turnout,” said Donald P. Green, a professor of political science at Columbia University. “Changes about location and day and format all have a disruptive effect.”

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