House Votes to Move All North Carolina Primaries to March

Secures Delegates, Saves Counties Millions

Yesterday the North Carolina House of Representatives passed HB-373: Elections in an effort to solidify North Carolina’s prominent role in selecting presidential candidates and consolidate the primary process. 

Prior to this legislation, North Carolina’s primaries were held in May of each election year. HB-373 will now move all presidential, statewide, and local primaries to March, with the upcoming primary held on March 15, 2016. The bill will also allow for delegates to be awarded in a winner-takes-all format. This move complies with both Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee rules, and will maximize North Carolina’s importance in the selecting of the party presidential nominees. North Carolina is the ninth most populous state in the nation, often described nationally as a “battleground state”, and controls fifteen electoral votes.

“I am proud that the House, along with the Senate, passed a conference report that maintains party delegates, saves millions of dollars, and provides transparency to the party caucus structure,” stated House Elections Chairman, Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett). “This bill not only ensures maximum participation, but it provides a new, transparent mechanism where funds raised and funds spent will have increased exposure. It has been our goal the whole time to make North Carolina – a dynamic, changing state – a fixture in the presidential primary process.”

While the original bill sought to move only the presidential primary, the House and Senate decided that it would make more financial and logistical sense to move all primaries to the same date. This decision will save counties around $10 million.

Moving the date of the primary also necessitates changing the filing date for candidates. Candidates will now receive a three-week window of time, December 1 – December 21, to file essential election paperwork. This ensures that the Board of Elections has ample time to prepare the ballot and mail absentee ballots, while also allowing potential candidates some flexibility.

HB-373 also formally recognizes affiliated party committees. This move mirrors national party structures, for example – the partnership between the National Republican Party (RNC) – which manages the national platform and presidential race, and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) – which manages the House of Representatives caucus races. This change allows for added transparency in political fundraising and contributions. These affiliated party committees will be subject to the same laws and limitations that political committees are currently subject to under law. 

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