02/09/04 — Filing periods and primaries delayed by state

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Filing periods and primaries delayed by state

By Staff and Wire
Published in News on February 9, 2004 2:01 PM

The State Board of Elections decided this morning to postpone North Carolina's primary election until July 20, because federal judges haven't finished reviewing proposed new districts for General Assembly seats.

The filing period for state and local offices, which was to open at noon today, has also been pushed back. Under the new schedule, filing opens April 26 and closes May 7.

Wayne County Elections Director Gary Sims expected the delay, although his office was prepared to go ahead with filings, he said.

The office was receiving calls this morning from prospective candidates wanting to know if they should come in or not, he said. All seven county commissioner seats, three school board seats and the register of deeds are all scheduled to be decided this fall.

The delay "is fortunate in a way because it allows us to concentrate on the new election in Goldsboro's District 6," he said. The rematch between Danny Roseborough and Jackie Warrick for the seat now held by Councilman Delmus Bridgers is set for March 23.

Larry Leake, the state board's chairman, said July 20 was the latest date that the primary could be held and still meet requirements for organizing an election, such as printing ballots.

"It gives everyone a date to work toward," Leake said. "Hopefully, it will cause the Department of Justice and the judges to say, 'That's when North Carolina needs to have its primary.'"

The board had to set a new date by Monday, the date that candidates for state and local offices in North Carolina were supposed to begin filing. The state's primary originally was scheduled for May 4.

By law, the N.C. General Assembly must draw new legislative and congressional districts every 10 years to reflect population changes. It's a job that has proved especially difficult for North Carolina lawmakers over the past few years.

The delay marks the third time in six years that redistricting problems have postponed state elections. In 2002, the primary was postponed four months.

The decision to move the primary back by 2 1/2 months means primary winners will have a shorter period in which to replenish their campaign bank accounts and go face-to-face against their general election opponents.