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North Carolina Supreme Court delays state primary elections until May 2022 due to gerrymandering allegations

The ruling moves the primaries from March 8, 2022 to May 17, 2022.
N.C. primary elections delayed
Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 5:29 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2021 at 6:28 PM EST
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV) - The North Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that all state primary elections must be delayed until May 2022 so state courts can review lawsuits claiming illegal gerrymandering.

“In light of the great public interest in the subject matter of these cases, the importance of the issues to the constitutional jurisprudence of this State, and the need for urgency in reaching a final resolution on the merits at the earliest possible opportunity, the Court grants a preliminary injunction and temporarily stats the candidate filing period for the 2022 elections for all offices until such time as a final judgment on the merits of the plantiff’s claims, including any appeals, is entered and a remedy, if any is required, has been ordered,” the order read.

The ruling moves the primaries from March 8, 2022 to May 17, 2022. The primary is now pushed back to May 17 for all offices, including legislative seats and seats in the U.S. House and Senate.

Wednesday’s decision by the state Supreme Court comes after a state Court of Appeals panel initially blocked filing for legislative and congressional candidates on Monday, only to have the decision reversed by the full intermediate-level appeals court.

For any candidate whose filing has been accepted by the State Board of Elections or any county board of elections, that candidate “will be deemed to have filed for the same office” in the May primary, subject to any court rulings that would impact that candidate’s eligibility, according to the Supreme Court order.

Those candidates would be able to withdraw their candidacy during the new filing period.

Any individual who withdraws their candidacy is free to file for any other office for which they are eligible during the reopened filing period.

The state’s Supreme Court’s preliminary injunction comes as lawsuits challenge the new election maps passed by the General Assembly. Litigation is pending, alleging the new redistricting maps are illegal partisan gerrymanders.

The order by the justices means candidate filing is now suspended until the litigation is resolved.

Late Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein asked the State Supreme Court to step in and quickly hear the case, saying a delay in hearing the case “could cause substantial harm” if elections are allowed to go forward using the current maps Gov. Cooper and AG Josh Stein filed an amicus brief.

Gov. Cooper provided a statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday.

“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,” the governor said.

Dates for a new filing period have not been set. Candidate filing had begun on Monday at the N.C. State Fairgrounds for state and federal-level contests and at all 100 county boards of elections for local contests.

As of Wednesday evening, more than 1,400 candidates had filed statewide.

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