Local News

State Budget Problems May Force Change In Primary Election Date

Posted March 14, 2002 12:50 p.m. EST

— The State Board of Elections is meeting today to consider whether to postpone the entire May primary to a later date. The meeting follows an N.C. Supreme Court ruling last week that legislative elections could not be held until it is determined whether the new voting districts violate the state's constitution by crossing county lines.

The state Supreme Court halted the May 7 primary elections for legislative districts, but the state budget picture is forcing the state to seriously consider rescheduling the May primary entirely.

"What we are telling them right now is that unless we receive direction to the contrary, we are still working a May 7 primary for all offices other than the legislative offices," said Johnnie McClain of the State Board of Elections.

The state budget crisis could spoil the May 7 primary for all of the elections. An additional primary would cost taxpayers $3 to $5 million.

State Senate leader Marc Basnight is considering putting the entire primary on hold, according to spokesperson Amy Fulk.

"Sen. Basnight feels that a second primary could not only cost a lot of money, but would also bring confusion and disruption to the elections, and that is not convenient for voters," she said.

Concerned about a $1 billion hole in the state budget, lawmakers could set a new primary date, but the state attorney general's office tells WRAL that the State Board of Elections can act on its own to change the primary date.

If the Board does decide to change the date, it can do so without legislative approval.