Local News

Candidates, Election Officials Still Cannot Pin Down Date For Primaries

Posted June 29, 2002 7:45 a.m. EDT

— North Carolina's primary elections were supposed to be held May 7. Then election officials said they would be held sometime in August. Now, there could be even more delays because of the continuing court fights over where political districts should be drawn. The political drama is turning off voters, which is making it tougher for candidates to run their campaigns.

When State Sen. Brad Miller, D-Raleigh, decided to run for Congress, little did he know his biggest challenge would be pinning down a primary election date.

"It's just impossible to figure out a campaign plan," he said. "We know we want to make phone calls in the last week. [It would] be nice to know when that last week was. We know we want to put up signs in the last month. [It would] be nice to know when that was."

State Board of Elections Deputy Director Johnnie McLean said the political wrangling over district lines has pushed election-planning to a critical point.

"I think we need to have a decision by July 1. That's this coming Monday," she said.

Between another federal court hearing and delays by the Department of Justice, election officials do not expect to find out for at least another week beyond that, which means something has got to give.

With planning time dwindling, McLean said a Sept. 10 primary looks more and more likely.

Political consultant Brad Crone said the delays also hurt campaigns because contributors grow cold.

"It just brings uncertainty and confusion. They don't know when the primary's going to be, so they're sitting on their money," he said.

"I doubt this is something we're going to look back at and laugh. I think we're going to look back with the same sense of frustration we feel now," Miller said.

Election officials said if a date is not set soon, the absentee ballot period may be reduced. Plus, they said they are worried that precinct workers will not have adequate time to prepare.