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Talk To Us: Unaffiliated voting in the primary election

Jackson County Early Voting 2022_resized.jpg
Lilly Knoepp
Jackson County Board of Elections during early voting in 2022.

The polls are now open for early voting for North Carolina’s May primary.  

During the primary, registered party voters in North Carolina must pick candidates from their own party.  But unaffiliated voters get to choose a party ballot.  That freedom of choice can cause confusion.

BPR received a question from a listener who wanted to know if unaffiliated voters had to vote for the same party in both the primary and the November general election. 

Western Carolina University’s Dr. Chris Cooper says it will be a common question this election season. Unaffiliated voters are now the state’s largest voting group. Cooper says a voter’s party choices in the primary do not impact their voting options in the November general election.

“There is no connection between the primary and the general in terms of who you vote for. In other words, if you are an unaffiliated voter, you can vote in the Democratic Primary or the Republican Primary and when it comes time for the General Election, you can choose any candidate on the ballot,” said Cooper.

Polls open each weekday morning at eight and are open on some weekends. The primary election day is May 17th.

Here is all of BPR’s election coverage. Check out the NC BOE site here for a sample ballot. If you aren’t sure which districts you are in after re-districting, you can use this BOE tool.  

Do you have a question about voting that you'd like answered? Record a voice memo and send it to voices@bpr.org or use the talk to us feature on the free BPR mobile app. You can also leave a voicemail at 828-253-6700.

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.
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