RALEIGH — Reflecting the crowded field of 2016 presidential candidates, North Carolina’s primary ballot has 27 candidates among the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties.
The State Board of Elections finalized the ballots Wednesday for the March 15 primary. Voters who choose the Democratic ballot will have four options that include the party’s front-runner Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Republican voters have 12 candidates to choose from, and Libertarians 11. All major Republican candidates still in the presidential primary race qualified for the ballot. Candidates who recently withdrew from the race were excluded.
“We encourage every eligible voter to participate in the election process,” said elections board Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach. “With absentee voting just weeks away, we are excited about the upcoming election.”
According to the State Board of Elections, the law in North Carolina requires the order of names of the candidates to be chosen by random selection.
Voters across the state will head to the polls on March 15, a change from the more traditional May primary enacted after Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation in the fall which bumps up the date. Absentee voters can begin voting as early as January 25.
Four other states, which include Florida, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri, will hold their presidential primary the same day in March as North Carolina.
Republican candidates listed on the ballot include Sen. Rand Paul, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Donald J. Trump, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz, Jim Gilmore, and Carly Fiorina.
Rubio is scheduled to make a campaign appearance at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh on Jan. 9.
Democratic candidates include Martin J. O’Malley, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and Rocky De La Fuente, a California businessman. De La Fuente, who was not put forward by the Democrat Party, qualified for the ballot by securing the required number of signatures.
Libertarians include John David Hale, Cecil Ince, Gary Johnson, Steven Elliott (Steve) Kerbel, Darryl W. Perry, Austin Petersen, Derrick Michael Reid, Jack B. Robinson, Jr., Rhett Rosenquest Smith, Barbara Joy Waymire, and Marc Allan Feldman.
Johnson is a former Republican governor of New Mexico and was the Libertarian nominee for president in 2012.
The deadline to register to vote in North Carolina is 25 days before the election. Voters in 2016 will be required to provide photo identification.