Carolina Public Press sent out a reader survey to learn about those registering as unaffiliated. Interactive Graphic: Taylor Buck / Carolina Public Press

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The largest percentage of registered voters— 36% — are not affiliated with any party, according to N.C. State Board of Elections data, making North Carolina one of 12 states where unaffiliated voters are the most common, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill unaffiliated voter analysis showed.

Carolina Public Press sent out a request for readers to submit their reasons for registering as unaffiliated. The survey was available in English and en Español aquí and received more than 80 responses.

Most respondents said they decided to register as unaffiliated so they could vote for any party during primary elections. Many were former party-affiliated voters who switched to be unaffiliated. Others said they didn’t identify well enough with either party to register with them.

The growing unaffiliated voter population could mean a shift in how the current two-party political system functions.

“What this means is that voters in North Carolina have a choice to make. They can choose to express their partisanship, receive the (mostly social) benefits of party membership, but be limited in which primary they may choose, or they can choose to register as an unaffiliated voter, ‘cover’ their political beliefs and maximize their choice in the primary,” North Carolina researchers wrote in a 2020 study.

Election Day is Nov. 8. Ballots are already being cast through early voting, which ends Nov. 5.

Have questions about voting? Check out Carolina Public Press’ in-depth guides for absentee and new voters, learn about early voting and test your knowledge about voting in the state with our quiz. It’s also not too late to take the unaffiliated survey here in English and en Español aquí.

Shelby Harris

Shelby Harris a Carolina Public Press staff writer, based in Asheville. Email her at sharris@carolinapublicpress.org to contact her.

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  1. IMO, Unaffiliated voters should not be rewarded for their UA status by the privilege of voting in any political party’s primary. The function of a primary is for the voters in a specific political party to pick the candidate they want to represent them in the General Election, as well as in office. A primary should not be muddied by non-party voters who wish to influence the outcome of a specific election or by uncommitted voters. Barring UAs from any primary would, IMO, motivate them to do more research into the values of each party and pick one.