RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WNCN) – The North Carolina Court of Appeals has indefinitely delayed candidate filing in the U.S. House and state House and Senate races for 2022.
The move comes as the filing period was set to begin at noon but multiple lawsuits have been filed in response to the new district maps approved by state lawmakers.
Judges last week rejected requests in redistricting lawsuits to delay the primary date and thus candidate filing.
There are also March primaries for legislative seats and county offices.
The decision came as candidates were waiting at county election offices across the state and the State Fairgrounds to file to run in various races for next year’s election.
“Considering the process that we went through, how transparent it was and how involved everybody was to that point, we’ll let the courts work that out. But, I don’t understand the logic behind the argument,” said E.C. Sykes, who planned to file to run Monday in the 13th state Senate district, which includes Granville County and parts of northern Wake County.
The North Carolina League of Conservation Voters filed one of the lawsuits aiming to get the maps thrown out, arguing Republicans had illegally gerrymandered them to give the party a significant advantage in winning most of the seats for the General Assembly and the U.S. House.
The NCLCV wants judges to declare the maps to be unconstitutional and proposed alternative maps to use instead.
Republicans have denied using partisan data in drawing the maps.
“While they may not have been looking at partisan data in the room, somebody was looking at partisan data outside of that room. And, these Republican map drawers clearly had an indication of what they were doing from a partisan standpoint,” said Scott Falmlen, a co-founder of Nexus Strategies and former executive director of the state Democratic Party. “Republican members chose their voters and they did not draw maps that allow the voters to choose who their representatives are.”
The Court of Appeals ordered Republican legislators to file a response by noon Thursday. The court said a ruling be made either after they file or after the deadline if there is no response.
Sen. Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus), one of the Republicans who led the redistricting effort in the Senate, tweeted Monday, “In less than three hours, a secret panel of three unidentified Court of Appeals judges was able to review nearly 1,000 pages challenging the maps of 184 districts, read the entire ‘record,’ and block candidate filing in every county in the state.”
It’s not clear which judges on the Court of Appeals are considering the case. Filing in races unaffected by the new district maps, such as U.S. Senate and municipal elections, was still allowed to more forward Monday.
In the past decade, courts threw out previous maps Republican legislators drew for racial and partisan gerrymandering.