RALEIGH – Officials with the N.C. State Board of Elections is recommending postponement of the 2021 elections and 2022 primary elections due to delays in data from the 2020 census.
The recommendation was made by Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell, and presented to lawmakers, who will need to approve any such delays.
Usually completed by the summer following the census year, COVID conditions mean the new data is not expected until the end of September. Filing for 2021 municipal races is supposed to begin in July, so the conflict is clear. Delaying those elections may be the only way to hold them constitutionally, with accurate census data.
As for the 2022 elections, the runway between the primary elections and the general elections is recommended for shortening. With 2022 primaries scheduled for March as of now, delaying them would put that election.
Executive Director Bell has reportedly suggested holding those elections in May, with the general election in November as usual. These means that big crowded primaries like those for the 2022 U.S. Senate race will have a couple more months to duke it out for the party nominations. That could be a difference maker, with the extended competitive primaries advantaging those with staying power (money).
The delay in data will also keep North Carolinians wondering where the anticipated extra congressional district will be. Due to population growth, North Carolina will gain an additional seat in congress, pushing the total to 14.
All of these changes would have to be reflected in law, via the state legislature. Interestingly, the Board was not concerned with that legislative approval when effectively changing election rules laws in front of the 2020 elections.