The North Carolina State Board of Elections finalized the list of qualified candidates for the state's primary elections Tuesday, certifying 27 candidates for 3 party ballots.
In other words, there are 27 candidates running in the primary elections in North Carolina, but because the state holds partisan primary elections, voters will not be able to choose from all 27 candidates.
North Carolina is often described as having semi-closed primaries because parties allow unaffiliated voters to participate in their publicly-funded primary elections, though voters registered with a party can only vote in their party's primary. However, qualifying parties are legally allowed to close these elections to party members only whenever they want because North Carolina law allows for closed primaries.
Registered Republican voters and unaffiliated voters who choose to participate in the Republican primary will have 12 candidates to choose from, ranging from Donald Trump to Jeb Bush to Rick Santorum.
Registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters who choose to participate in the Democratic primary will have 4 candidates on their ballot, including Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, and San Diego businessman Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente. Despite not being as well known, De La Fuente collected more than 10,000 signatures to qualify for the primary ballot.
Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party submitted 11 names for their primary, all of whom will appear on the ballot on election day.
"Libertarians, Republicans and Democrats are the three political parties currently guaranteed a spot on the North Carolina ballot," WFAE 90.7, Charlotte's NPR News Source, reports. "Other parties must gather 90,000 signatures to get a candidate included for the primary. And this year no group or candidate was able to reach that mark."
Though the media touches briefly on the restrictions that come with partisan primary systems (whether closed, semi-closed, or open), there are few that are willing to take a step back and ask the crucial questions about why we have the voting systems we have.
It might be worth asking why are any political parties guaranteed spots in the general election, whether they are major or minor? Why can't voters choose from all candidates running rather than being stuck with candidates from a single party? Why do elections put parties first and not voters?