2024 Election Tip: Should You Be a U?

2 minute read

Leading up to the 2024 primary election this winter and the general election in the fall, the Center will offer a variety of tips for nonprofits about nonpartisan voter registration and voter education. We encourage you to share these tips with your staff, board, and the people you serve. This week’s tip: It may be advantageous to be registered as an unaffiliated voter in the primary election.

When North Carolinians register to vote, they have the option of choosing to be affiliated with one of five recognized political parties (Democratic, Green, Libertarian, No Labels, or Republican) or being an unaffiliated voter. Your partisan affiliation affects which ballot you receive in the primary election. If you are registered with a partisan affiliation, you can only receive that party’s ballot in the primary election – and you probably won’t get to vote in the primary at all if you are registered with the Green or No Labels parties, since these parties don’t have contested primaries. However, if you are registered as an unaffiliated voter, you can choose any party’s ballot in the primary election, so you have the opportunity to be strategic about choosing the ballot with the most options in the races that matter to you the most.

In some counties, only one party has competitive primary elections – and the primary election is often the de facto election in places without competitive general elections – so it may be advantageous for some voters to be registered as unaffiliated so they have a chance to vote in an election with a meaningful choice of candidates. Note that you can only receive one ballot during the primary election, so if you are registered as unaffiliated you have to choose which party’s ballot you would like to receive.

Being unaffiliated isn’t for everyone. If you are considering running for office (other than nonpartisan offices like municipal officials and school board members in certain parts of the state) or having a leadership role in a political party, you will need to be affiliated with the appropriate party.

You can't change your partisan affiliation during Early Voting, so if you are currently registered with a partisan affiliation, it is too late to switch for this year's primary election. However, if this election-year tip convinced you to change your registration to “unaffiliated" for future elections, you may want to consider making the change in the near future.

Note: If you missed the first four 2024 Election Tips of the Week (checking your voter registration, requesting an absentee ballot, using the great (and free) resources from You Can Vote), and making a plan to vote early, or want a refresher, feel free to click the link to (re)read them now.

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