Bill that will push back elections in Raleigh and other cities will become law

A state bill pushing back some municipal elections, including Raleigh’s, will become law without the governor’s signature. The election delay is caused by delays in getting U.S. Census Bureau data.

Now some local elections will occur at the same time as the March 2022 primary instead of this fall.

The deadline for N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper to take action on SB 722 was Saturday.

An amendment added to the bill, at the request of the Raleigh City Council, pushes back Raleigh’s municipal election even further, to fall 2022, That permanently moves the election to even years and changes the election from a run-off method to a plurality method.

The city council’s decision, which was made in closed session, has been met with criticism and some calls for a potential recall.

“While delays to Census data caused by the pandemic necessitate changes to local elections, decisions about local elections like these should involve more open discussion and public input and therefore these changes will become law without my signature,” Cooper said in a statement.

Cities, school boards and towns that elect local leaders by district are required to update those geographic boundaries after every U.S. Census. That data is normally released in March after the Census, but this year won’t be released until the end of September.

Municipalities that have no districts, like Apex and Wake Forest, and cities that have districts but everyone in the city can vote in those district races, like Durham, will continue to have fall elections in 2021 like normal.

In addition to Raleigh, the Lexington City Board of Education and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education are also specifically mentioned in the bill and will have their elections pushed back to fall 2022 instead of the primary date. And some cities have sought local bills to push back their elections to fall instead of the primary.