RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – This year’s primary election date in North Carolina could change again.
Republicans in the General Assembly said Monday they plan to vote on a bill this week that would delay the primary from May 17 to June 7.
The state Supreme Court already ordered the primary be delayed from March to May amid a series of lawsuits over the state’s new districts Republicans drew for Congress and the General Assembly.
The court has scheduled oral arguments in that case for Feb. 2.
Republicans said they’re concerned if the court strikes down those maps it would not leave enough time to redraw the districts and re-open the candidate filing period in late February.
Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) said state law requires the legislature have at least 14 days to redraw districts if ordered.
His chamber will vote Wednesday on changing the primary date. The House is expected to vote that day as well, sending the bill to Gov. Roy Cooper (D). It’s unclear if the proposal will include run-off elections.
“But the redistricting case schedule adopted by the state Supreme Court provides as little as 12 days for the court to decide on a lengthy and complex redistricting case, write a decision, and for the legislature to draw new districts if the Supreme Court strikes down the current ones,” Hise said in a statement. “That is an extremely short timeframe that will cause unnecessary confusion and chaos. The extremely short timeframe is not necessary and can be lengthened by moving the state’s primary elections to June 7.”
Last week a three-judge panel upheld the districts Republicans drew, saying they were not unconstitutional but did label them as examples of “intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting.”
The plaintiffs argued that the districts were examples of “extreme partisan gerrymanders” and should be struck down. Various analysts who testified at the trial said the Congressional map, for example, would likely lead to Republicans winning at least 10 of the state’s 14 seats despite North Carolina being a purple state.
The state Supreme Court, which has a Democratic majority, could order the Republican-controlled legislature to redraw the maps.
The change in the primary date would need the support of Cooper or enough Democrats in the legislature to override a veto.
Cooper’s office didn’t reply to a request for comment Monday.
“I don’t think we need to,” said state Sen. Wiley Nickel (D-Wake), who is running for a U.S. House seat. “We have plenty of time to get the maps right and keep our election on track. So, I’m surprised to hear it and don’t understand the rationale behind it.”