At noon on Monday, Dec. 6, the Guilford County Board of Elections began filing candidates running in the 2022 races.
However, the county’s candidate filing process was suddenly shut down by the NC Supreme Court just three days later. As of Thursday, Dec. 9, Guilford County elections staff, who had been focused on getting candidates filed, had to find new tasks to take on while everyone waits patiently to hear from the court as to when candidates in the state can start filing again.
Due to law suits regarding the recent redrawing of district lines which was required after the 2020 Census, the state’s Supreme Court – in addition to nixing filing for all offices – delayed the primary election planned for Tuesday, March 8, to Tuesday, May 17.
As for when election officials will be allowed to open up candidate filing again, it’s anyone’s guess. When Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt was asked this week if he’d heard any indication when that date would be, he had a one-word answer.
Given the new May 17 date for the 2022 primary election, there are some legal requirements that mean the races must be set at least 55 days before the election. Hopefully, the matter will be decided well before that March 23 date. With law suits common after redistricting, the process could draw out quite a while.
Collicutt said that his elections office has some experience with delays and last-minute changes in the election process. That has happened several times in the last two decades and, in 2018, a political battle in Raleigh meant that there was no North Carolina Board of Elections for about a year. That caused all sorts of problems.
The change in primary dates – from March to May – also brings challenges.
According to Collicutt, there are 165 churches, schools, recreation centers and other voting sites in Guilford County that had been planning for voters to show up on March 8 – and now that date will be May 17.
That could conceivably lead to a need to find new polling places if some sites are unavailable for the new date.
Collicutt said there’s an “army” of election workers – county staff and added help – who had been planning on the vote being taken in March. They will now have to adjust to the May date.