Wake County Court approves new maps; Western North Carolina districts changing

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Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

Just after noon on Wednesday, a special Wake County court approved new redistricting maps for North Carolina’s 2022 elections. Parties can still appeal the decision by 5 p.m., otherwise, the approved maps will be the official boundaries for the congressional and General Assembly elections for 2022.

Three former judges serviced as special masters for a Wake County Superior Court panel have rejected the map drawn last week by the General Assembly to establish congressional districts that meet requirements established by the North Carolina Supreme Court.

“Today’s decision allows a blatantly unfair and unconstitutional State Senate Map that may have been the worst of the bunch,” NC Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement. “That is bad for North Carolina because it strips voters of their voice in our democracy. Our elections should not go forward until we have fair, constitutional maps.”

Unless one of the parties appeals the maps to the North Carolina Supreme Court, candidate filing for the 2022 primaries is set to begin at 8 a.m. Thursday. The primary election will be on May 17.

The Congressional Maps approved on Wednesday virtually eliminates the newly drawn District 14 in which Rep. Madison Cawthorn said he would be running. District 11, which Rep. Cawthorn currently represents will remain nearly unchanged with all boundaries staying the same with the exception of Mitchell and Avery counties being moved to NC District 5. With a field of candidates already lined up for District 11, the new district will likely once again change for those candidates running for election.

While the court rejected the Congressional maps, the court approved the maps the North Carolina House and Senate that the General Assembly passed last week.

For WNC, the biggest change for the Senate districts would be Transylvania County moving to Senate District 50. A portion of Haywood County will also now be located in Senate District 47.

WNC will see virtually completely new House Districts. While House District 120, currently represented by Rep. Karl Gillespie will remain unchanged, District 119, represented by Rep. Mike Clampitt will see a significant change by eliminating the entirety of Haywood County and instead also picking up Transylvania County. Rep. Mark Pless, who represents District 118, will see the entirety of Haywood County being shifted to his district, which will keep Madison County but eliminates Yancey County as it will move to District 85.

Filing for NC political officers may resume 

Thursday, pending Wednesday appeals

Lawsuits over the newly drawn district maps were filed shortly after the maps were approved by the General Assembly— while the lawsuits worked their way through the court system, filing for the November 2022 election was temporarily suspended by the courts. 

The process for candidate filing is scheduled to resume on February 24, with the primary being scheduled for May 17. While filing is anticipated to run from the 24th until March 4th, a decision from a panel of Superior Court Judges could change that this week. 

Judges Graham Shirley II, R-Wake, Nathaniel Poovey, R-Catawba, and Dawn Layton, D-Richmond approved the new maps that the North Carolina General Assembly passed in a bipartisan vote last week. 

If no appeals are filed, absentee-by-mail ballots will go out at the latest on April 1. Early in-person voting would start April 28, and the primary election day is set for May 17.

Candidates that are seeking U.S. Senate, U.S. House or Representatives, State Supreme Court Justice, State Judge of Appeals, Superior Court Judge, District Court Judge, and District Attorney need to file with the state board of elections. Filing for State Senate, House, and all county and municipal offices should be done through the county board of elections.

Candidates who filed in December do not have to file again.

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