Raleigh, N.C. — A bill that would solve an unintended problem with North Carolina's primary election date is moving to the House floor.
In 2013, in an effort to have more sway in the presidential election, state lawmakers voted to move the 2016 presidential primary date from May to March. However, they added a provision that said, if South Carolina had its primary before March 15, North Carolina would hold its primary the following Tuesday.
When South Carolina scheduled its 2016 primaries for February, North Carolina's presidential primary would have moved up several weeks. That would have broken the rules laid out by both national parties in their attempts to prevent states from "front-loading" the primary process. North Carolina's Republican and Democratic parties could have both lost delegates to their national conventions as a result.
In 2015, to placate the national parties, lawmakers voted to move the 2016 primary to March 15, the first date the Republican Party would allow winner-take-all primaries to be held. But they didn't change the underlying law that linked the state's date to South Carolina's.
Senate Bill 655 would remove the statutory reference to South Carolina's primary date and set the state's primary date permanently as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March. In 2018, that will be March 6. The filing period for the election will be in December.
The measure passed the House Elections Committee on Thursday morning with no debate and could be on the governor's desk by Friday. It cleared the Senate in April.