RALEIGH — A pair of orders from the N.C. Supreme Court Monday officially rejected requests from the state’s sheriffs, district attorneys, and Superior Court clerks to reopen candidate filing as soon as possible.
Groups representing those three sets of elected officials went to court on Dec. 29. That was three weeks after the Supreme Court had shut down candidate filing for all state and local offices on North Carolina’s 2022 election ballot. An ongoing fight over congressional and legislative election maps had prompted the shutdown.
At the time, there was no indication when candidate filing would resume. Thirteen days after the local elected officials went to court, a three-judge Superior Court panel ruled that candidate filing for all N.C. offices would resume Feb. 24 and last through March 4.
Without explanation, the Supreme Court denied the local elected officials’ request to intervene in the election dispute. Justices also dismissed a motion to reconsider the earlier shutdown of candidate filing.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Feb. 2 in consolidated cases challenging N.C. election maps. Observers expect a ruling on the case within weeks, perhaps days, of that hearing.
Two days before the new year, the sheriffs, DAs, and court clerks explained their interest in seeing candidate filing resume.
“Unlike the nationwide support and money which typically pours into congressional campaigns and the statewide political party and political action committee (PAC) funding for legislative campaigns, campaigns for Sheriffs, District Attorneys, and Clerks of Superior Court are quintessentially local,” attorney James Morgan wrote in his brief. “Particularly in smaller counties in the State, a candidate filing is accompanied by much fanfare from the local populace and the local news media.”
Before the Dec. 8 order, “candidates could rely on the certainty of a two-week filing period for planning,” Morgan wrote. “Local campaigns throughout the State relied upon these deadlines for fundraising, ordering campaign signs, scheduling, attending public engagements, implementing election strategy, and filing for election.”
The brief described a “quagmire” for people running for sheriff. State law requires them to secure disclosure statements from an education and training standards commission. Those statements expire after 90 days. Some prospective candidates who were unable to file for office in December might have to repeat the bureaucratic process.
“An orderly democracy requires certainty,” the brief concluded. “This Court’s 8 December 2021 Order has unintentionally caused upheaval in elections which should not have been affected.”