Board of Elections proceeding as planned with primaries

Published 5:35 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Beaufort County Board of Elections, for now, is not changing how it will handle the upcoming March 15 primaries even though a federal court has ordered the redistricting of two of the state’s congressional districts.

Last week, a federal three-judge panel ruled the 1st and 12th districts unconstitutional and ordered the North Carolina General Assembly to draw new congressional districts by Feb. 19. The judges said Republican state lawmakers relied too heavily on race in drawing them in 2011. Part of Beaufort County is in the 1st Congressional District, represented by G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat.

Attorneys for the state of North Carolina have asked the judges to delay their order requiring the districts be redrawn. The General Assembly is not in session at this time.

The court’s ruling, and the state’s request for a stay, has raised questions about the upcoming primary.

“We had a few from candidates, and a few from voters, just asking how that will impact the March election,” said Kellie Harris Hopkins, director of the Beaufort County Board of Elections. “We’ve told them to continue on like nothing’s happened. We really need to wait on what the court says about the stay before we can give anybody any definitive answers.”

On Monday, the North Carolina State Board of Elections provided instructions to the local boards of elections in the state. Those instructions told the boards to not change their existing plans to conduct the March primaries.

“The scope of any redistricting effort is not yet known, so we are encouraging voters to vote their full ballot and let us worry about whether that race is ultimately certified,” according to those instructions.

“It’s better for everybody to vote like it’s going to count, and we’ll decide later whether it does or not than for it to count and you didn’t vote the way you needed to and miss such opportunity,” Hopkins said.

In the emergency request, the state’s attorneys argued the order “is likely to cause significant voter confusion and irreparable harm to the citizens of North Carolina and the election process that is already under way.” The attorneys also appealed the three-judge panel’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.







About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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