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'This is not fair' | NC unaffiliated voters outnumber republicans and democrats, yet candidates face hurdles

On Flashpoint, one political professor lays out a trend that's been decades in the making.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Last week, unaffiliated voters in North Carolina finally outnumbered registered Republicans and Democrats in the state.  

"This has been the trend that has been happening for several decades now," Dr. Michael Bitzer, political professor at Catawba College, said.

As of March 13th, state records show nearly 2.5 million registered unaffiliated voters in North Carolina, just a few hundred more than democrats. 2.18 million voters are registered as Republicans.  

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Bitzer cautioned against drawing too many conclusions about voters' newly-found independent streak.

"Most of them would be, I think, closeted partisans. They just don't like the party label," he said.

Despite the growth in unaffiliated voters, unaffiliated candidates face additional red tape to appear on the ballot.

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"Not many people were aware that I would have to petition to be on the ballot," Jennifer Moxley, unaffiliated District 1 candidate for Charlotte City Council, said.

Moxley, a former news reporter, needs to gather the signature of 1,323 voters, or 1.5% of registered voters in her district, in order to appear on the ballot.  

"If I had been a republican or a democrat, my name would be on the ballot, along with all the other people who had $216 that weekend," she said.

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$216 is the fee candidates pay to get listed on the ballot. 

Election workers have suggested that the petition requirement for unaffiliated candidates keeps unserious candidates from entering the race.  But Moxley points out partisan candidates don't face such hurdles.

"There are no measures in place for either political party to weed out candidates from filing, there are none," Moxley said.  

"This is not fair." 


Contact Ben Thompson at bthompson@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly. 
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