RALEIGH, N.C. — The Supreme Court of North Carolina issued an order on Tuesday pushing back election primaries over two months. It comes amid challenges to new electoral maps within the state.
On Nov. 4, North Carolina Republican state lawmakers passed a set of newly-drawn congressional and legislative district maps. Barely 24 hours later, Democratic groups started suing the state, calling the maps unfair and gerrymandered. That's how this matter initially ended up in court.
Primaries for several elections in North Carolina were scheduled to be held on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. According to the state Supreme Court order Tuesday, primaries will now be held on Tuesday, May 17.
The delay is intended to give the trial court time to revisit the districts. The lower court has been directed to hold proceedings and reach a ruling on the electoral map claims no later than Jan. 11, 2022. Anyone wishing to appeal that ruling will be required to file a Notice of Appeal within two days of the ruling.
Filing for the General Assembly and U.S. House seats in North Carolina began Tuesday morning after being initially delayed then restored. Wednesday's order temporarily closes the candidate-filing period until the final judgment on the electoral map claims has been made and appeals are addressed.
"I think certainly the candidates have to be thinking, 'What else could possibly happen?' and they've been through a lot in the past, basically, 72 hours," Michael Bitzer, professor of politics at Catawba College, said.
The state Supreme Court said any individual who already filed to run for public office in 2022, and whose filing was accepted by the appropriate board of elections, will be deemed to have filed under that same office for the new election schedule unless they provide timely notice of withdrawal to the board in the new filling period.
"Today’s order by the state Supreme Court restores faith in the rule of law and it is necessary for the Court to rule on the constitutionality of these unfair districts before the next election," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said later Wednesday.
It's the latest delay in the election cycle for North Carolina. The complications of the 2020 Census data collection resulted in earlier postponements of the same elections. Because of the pandemic, population data was late coming back.
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