Effective Primary Voting in North Carolina

I live in North Carolina, and I’ve registered as an Unaffiliated (UA) Voter. So when I vote in the primaries in even-numbered years, I decide which ballot I want to take.

The state is an Open-primary state. If you choose to register by party, you can only vote in that party’s primary. You can, however, sign up as Unaffiliated and pick any party for any primary. At the risk of stating the obvious, everyone gets the same ballot in the November general elections and can vote for anyone of any party for any office.

The state is big enough and diverse enough that both parties locally dominate different parts of the state. So the question occurs for UA voters who live in an area dominated by the party they don’t support. They can vote in their preferred party’s primary to get that party’s best candidates. Alternatively, They can vote in the other party’s primary to get the “least worse” local officials and better their day-to-day lives.

If you live in an area where your preferred party is the minority, your primary day votes are only meaningful when votes for that office are being conducted statewide. For example, Members of Congress represent district-level offices, not statewide. If your local district is overwhelmingly not your preferred party, your primary vote for a congressional candidate is probably a vote for a November loser.

North Carolina state officials, including the Governor, run for office in years divisible by four. These are, of course, Presidential election years. That makes a choice easier. The impact of those offices on our lives is sufficient to match any local officials. So we can easily choose the ballot of our preferred party.

 Durham, North Carolina, is in NC-4, the most heavily Democratic district in the state. Charlotte is split between two heavily “Blue” districts. Southern Wake County (not Raleigh) has a different situation. The northern half of Wake, including Raleigh, is in the solidly Democratic NC-2. But, Southern Wake County is in the only swing district in the state: NC-13.

I live in Durham. County offices are on the ballot this year, and the winners of the Democratic primary will win the General Election in November unless the unbelievable happens. Both parties have primaries for the U.S. House and Senate. The Republican candidate for the House seat is expected to lose in November. However, the Senate candidate has an excellent chance to win this year.

UA voters may choose the preferred ballot to vote in the Republican Senate primary because they believe it is crucial. I hope they understand what they are giving up.

The County Sheriff and District Attorney significantly impact your day-to-day life. They decide how crimes are investigated, who is incarcerated, evidence collection, who is prosecuted, etc. If you are unhappy about how that is done in your county, don’t skip your chance to vote against officials doing things wrong.

Again, I want to emphasize: We are not in 2024; today is 2022. The only statewide office on the ballot is the U.S. Senate seat. If your preferred party is Republican, are you going to skip voting to make your county better so you can cast a vote for Senate?

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