The laws governing state primaries are complex and nuanced, to say the least, and state primary laws have been a cause of confusion among voters and election administrators alike. The manner in which party primary elections are conducted varies widely from state to state. Primaries can be categorized as either closed, partially closed, partially open, open to unaffiliated voters, open or top-two.
North Carolina is a PARTIALLY CLOSED election system. In this system, state law permits political parties to choose whether to allow unaffiliated voters or voters not registered with the party to participate in their nominating contests before each election cycle. In this type of system, parties may let in unaffiliated voters, while still excluding members of opposing parties. This system gives the parties more flexibility from year-to-year about which voters to include. At the same time, it can create uncertainty about whether or not certain voters can participate in party primaries in a given year.
DEMOCRATIC May vote in Democratic primaries as well as all non-partisan, bond, referenda, special, and general elections.
LIBERTARIAN May vote in Libertarian primary elections and all non-partisan, bond, referenda, special and general elections.
REPUBLICAN May vote in Republican primaries and all non-partisan, bond, referenda, special, and general elections.
UNAFFILIATED May vote in all non-partisan, bond, referenda, special, and general elections. Unaffiliated voters may choose to participate in only one party’s primary.