Attention North Carolina voters: Just because we had our primary elections on March 15th doesn’t mean we can put away our voter IDs until November. Nope, we need to vote in a second primary election on Tuesday, June 7th.
If you caught the last episode of Last Night Tonight with John Oliver (contains foul language), you know that he explains how primaries and caucuses can be confusing and complicated. While Oliver is talking about the primaries used to determine the presidential nominees, he notes that both parties have “reformed their process to give their rank and file members more of a say, but many of the details were left up to state leaders which might help explain why we have such an erratic cluster[****] every four years.”
What did the state leaders do that led to NC having two primaries? It all goes back to the redistricting of congressional maps in 2011. Lawsuits were filed claiming that “republican mapmakers created more majority black districts than legally necessary by splitting counties and precincts.” The state supreme court upheld the map twice, but a panel of federal judges didn’t, throwing out two of the congressional districts (1st and 12th) and refusing to allow the state to use the 2011 maps while new ones were being redrawn and while the state continues to fight for the constitutionality of the 2011 map.
While the legislature complied with recreating a new congressional map, there wasn’t time to get everything done before the March election. That election still took place and any votes for congressional races are being held—uncounted and confidential— for now. At the same time that our legislature was creating new maps, Governor McCrory signed a law that set June 7th as the new congressional primary date.
So while you won’t be voting for Clinton or Sanders, Trump or Cruz in this election, your vote still matters to North Carolina. If you live in one of the districts affected by the redrawn map, you’ll be voting for your congressional representative. Every North Carolinian will also have a chance to vote for a person to fill a seat of the state supreme court. There will be four names on the ballot and the two with the most votes will advance to the November elections. Run-off elections (or second primaries) were removed this year, so no matter the margin, “someone with potentially less than 30 percent in a four-person race, for example, could advance.”
This year the state supreme court has voted on 74 cases including laws like the redistricting issue and standards for investigatory police procedures. Right now, the state supreme court is viewed as having a conservative majority, but that could all change depending on whether Justice Robert H. Edmunds Jr. is reelected.
It’s time to have a voice in North Carolina. It’s a year in which your vote matters. Review your congressional district, review who is running for the congressional districts and the state supreme court, and review what you believe to be right, and don’t forget to head to the polls (again) on June 7th.
Jennifer Brick is a freelance writer and former teacher in Durham, North Carolina. She earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. Follow her on Twitter @jenbrickwrites.