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Lawmakers vote to delay 2022 primary elections

Under a bill that legislators passed Wednesday, the state’s primary elections would move from May to June. Gov. Roy Cooper could veto the measure.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify a quote from state Sen. Kirk deViere.

North Carolina’s primary elections would shift from May to June under a bill Republicans passed Wednesday in the General Assembly in a pair of party-line votes.

However, Gov. Roy Cooper has expressed concern with the bill and may opt to veto it. Should Cooper be able to sustain that veto, the planned changes would be rendered moot and the primaries would revert back to May 17.

Under House Bill 605: 

- The candidate filing period would be March 24 to April 1.

- The primaries would be held June 7.

- Runoff elections, generally held if no candidate tops 30% of the vote, would be one of two days. That would account for a federal requirement that the runoff be held seven or 10 weeks after the initial election. A second possible primary date would be based on the results from the primary, said Angie Amaro, interim director of the Cumberland County Board of Elections.

"So the intent of the bill was to move the primaries back," said state Sen. Kirk deViere of Fayetteville. "It was not supported by any Democrats in the Senate. The vote fell on party lines. The thought, the feeling is, this is with the Supreme Court now. We need to let the Supreme Court do what it's going to do. Once there is a court decision and if we need to do something legislatively we can come back at that time.''

DeViere said he believes Cooper will veto the bill based on statements made Wednesday along with the Democrats’ unified vote.

Before Wednesday’s vote, some boards of elections were preparing for the candidate filing period to resume Feb. 24. A decision in Wake County Superior Court had granted a request from the N.C. State Board of Elections to resume candidate filing on that day, according to a news release from Cumberland County. The court upheld a legal challenge to redistricting maps for congressional and legislative districts.

Republican lawmakers want to delay the date for this year's primary, which already has been pushed back a couple of months - from March to May - by the state Supreme Court because of gerrymandering lawsuits. The delay would leave more time for the ongoing court fight.

The N.C. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case Feb. 2 and make a decision sometime after that.

Offices up for election include the 4th U.S. congressional district, N.C. General Assembly, Cumberland County Board of Commissioners (at-large and District 1), Cumberland County sheriff, Cumberland County clerk of court, Cumberland County district attorney, District Court judges, and the Fayetteville mayor and City Council.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

N.C. General Assembly, gerrymandering lawsuits, primary election

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