This story originally published online at N.C. Policy Watch. 

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that the 2022 primaries be pushed back from March 8 to May 17 to give courts time to consider lawsuits challenging new US House and legislative districts.

The court froze the candidate filing period for all offices, including local and judicial contests. The State Board of Elections said in a press release that as of Wednesday, more than 1,400 people had filed to run for office.

The Supreme Court ordered that a trial court hear two lawsuits that claim the GOP-drawn redistricting maps are unconstitutional.

The League of Conservation Voters sued claiming the US House and legislative plans are unconstitutional gerrymanders and dilute minority votes, Policy Watch reported. A group of voters backed by the National Redistricting Foundation is suing over the new congressional plan, claiming it is an extreme gerrymander of the kind that forced the legislature to redraw the districts in 2019.

The Supreme Court ordered the trial court to have a written ruling by January 11. Anyone who wants to appeal must file a notice within two business days.

Candidates who have already filed for office won’t have to do it again when filing reopens. They can withdraw their candidacy during the new filing period. If district lines change, some people who filed this week may no longer be eligible to run.

The abbreviated filing period revealed several former lawmakers want to return to the legislature:

• Former Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson, a Republican who ran for state Attorney General in 2016, filed to run in Senate district 4. He has a primary challenger, according to a candidate list on the General Assembly website.

• Former House member Elmer Floyd, a Democrat from Fayetteville who lost a primary last year, has filed to run in House district 43. Republican incumbent Diane Wheatley is running for reelection in that district.

• Former Republican House member Stephen Ross of Burlington is running again. Ross, who lost to Democrat Ricky Hurtado last year, has a primary challenger.

• Former Republican House member Scott Stone of Charlotte has filed to run for the Senate district 41 seat. Stone ran in the GOP primary for lieutenant governor in 2020. Democratic Rep. Rachel Hunt also filed to run in that district.

• Former Republican House member Bill Brawley of Matthews wants to return the legislature to represent House district 103. He lost the last two elections to Hunt.

• Former Sen. Shirley Randleman of Wilkesboro filed to represent Senate district 36. Republican Rep. Lee Zachary of Yadkinville has also filed in that district.

• Two incumbent Republican senators, Norm Sanderson of Minnesott Beach and Bob Steinburg of Edenton, who were drawn in the same district under the current plan, filed to run again.

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