North Carolina Run-off Primary Turnout was Only 3.6%

North Carolina held run-off primaries on July 17. Only 3.6% of the state’s registered voters participated. North Carolina only holds a runoff primary when no one get at least 40% of the vote in the original primary. North Carolina is one of only eight states that still holds partisan primary run-offs. See this editorial, calling on the state legislature to abolish run-off primaries. This year’s run-off primary cost between $6,000,000 and $7,000,000. Thanks to Rick Hasen for this news.


  1. 7-8 million buckaroos for 3.6% of the NC voters. Whoop-dee-doo. That’s our ultra-efficient, wonderful, benevolent government for ya!

  2. Demo Rep · · Reply

    Did the money stimulate the NC economy ??? — at least of the folks who got the $$$.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.
    NO primaries.
    Spend govt cash on something really necessary.

  3. Jim Riley · · Reply

    North Carolina already used a Top 2 primary for its non-partisan judicial races. It would be trivial to convert over to a Top 2 system for partisan races.

    The only statewide runoff for for commissioner of labor. In the May primary, there was a contested Democratic primary for governor which had 934 thousand votes. The commissioner of labor race only had 779 thousand votes, so 17% of voters didn’t bother to move their pencil down a couple of inches.

    In the runoff, Democratic turnout for the commissioner of labor race was only 58 thousand (6.2% of the May gubernatorial vote). There were no Democratic congressional races. Had North Carolina required a majority, there would have been a gubernatorial runoff.

    On the Republican side, the gubernatorial race was not closely contested (the nominee had 83%). 897 thousand were cast in the gubernatorial race, and that dropped off to 769 thousand in a Lieutenant Governor race that went to a runoff.

    149 thousand voted in the GOP Lt.Gov. race. But there were also 3 congressional runoffs, which in total had about half as many votes as the statewide race (North Carolina has 13 representatives, so 3/13 of the districts produced about half the votes).

    And of course there was Libertarian primary, and independent voters could vote in the May judicial primaries.

  4. Craig M. · · Reply

    Instant Run-off Voting would have produced a quicker and less costly decision.

  5. Yes Craig, North Carolina, beyond a need for better ballot access law, needs to implement Instant Runoff Voting in both our Primary and General Elections. However, it will be difficult to get the state to accept it. I don’t think many were very happy with the Judicial IRV race in 2010 (I think it was 2010 at least). However, I think a lot of that was ballot design more than anything and people simply were not used to it.

    Instant Runoff would be a great improvement in both Primaries and the General Election however, both in saving taxpayer funds and in allowing people to choose more freely from the candidates, and hopefully downplay the voters perceived need to vote “strategically.”

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