All ballot-qualified parties in North Dakota nominate by primary. The primary is open. On primary day, all voters are free to choose any party’s primary ballot. The only ballot-qualified parties in North Dakota in 2010, and also in 2014, were the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian Parties.
Although it is not possible to know the exact number of voters who choose any party’s primary, it is possible to know this approximately, by looking at the primary election returns. In the June 2010 primary, the largest vote total received by any Republican candidate was 65,205 votes; the largest vote total for any Democrat was 28,404 votes; the largest for any Libertarian was 548 votes.
By contrast, in June 2014, the largest vote total for any Republican was 50,446; for any Democrat, 30,154; for any Libertarian, 1,555. Thus while Republican primary voters dropped 22.6%, and Democratic primary turnout stayed approximately the same, Libertarian primary participation tripled.
Parties remain qualified by polling 5% in November for certain statewide offices. The only third parties that have met the North Dakota vote test to remain ballot-qualified in the last 100 years were the Reform Party in 1996, and the Socialist Party in 1914. The Libertarian Party is optimistic that, for the first time, it will meet the 5% vote test this November. This year, the only office that counts, for which the party has a nominee, is the Secretary of State’s race. Attorney General also counts, but no Libertarian is running for that office.