COMMENTARY: Party affiliation

by Jan 21, 2022OPINIONS0 comments



Yellowhill Community


In recent years, a number of us have been doing voter registration in Cherokee for county, state and national elections with more success in some years than others.   It is very important that Cherokees vote in these elections as what happens in the county, Raleigh and Washington directly impacts enrolled members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

In North Carolina and across the country, more people are registering as Unaffiliated than the more traditional political parties and this has been true in Cherokee as well.  There are various reasons for people to register Unaffiliated, but it certainly limits opportunities for holding political office.  In North Carolina Unaffiliated voters cannot serve as precinct or county officers for the Democratic Party.   Unaffiliated voters in NC can vote in either a Democratic or Republican primary.  They cannot run as candidates in the primaries for either party.  Filing as a candidate in the general election is not simple for an Unaffiliated voter.

In North Carolina, there are only three officially recognized political parties – Democrat, Republican and Libertarian.  North Carolina election law (GS 163-106) requires a person who wants to file as a candidate in a primary to have been affiliated with the party for at least 90 days prior to filing.  However, an Unaffiliated voter must submit a Petition Request Form in order to be considered a candidate for the November 2022 general election.  The petition must be signed by 4% of the total number of registered voters in the county and submitted by 12 noon on or before the primary on May 17 in order for the petition to be certified.  As of January 12, there are 9,779 registered voters in Swain County.  There is no specific deadline for requesting the Petition Request Form.   If the petition is certified, the candidate will be required to pay the same filing fee that all candidates pay.

Anyone convicted as a felon who has served their time and is no longer on probation or parole can run for political office as long as they are registered with a political party.   They must re-register to vote if they were registered prior to their conviction.