In unprecedented decision, 4th Circuit Court forecasts canceling North Carolina’s Congressional elections and invalidating primary results
Without a stay from the Supreme Court, NC’s electoral system will be thrown into chaos, causing massive voter confusion and no representation from NC at the start of Congressional session
Raleigh, NC – Hours after the North Carolina General Assembly adjourned until November, Obama-appointee Judge Jim Wynn released a 2-1 opinion invalidating North Carolina’s Congressional maps.
Judge Wynn forecast canceling November’s Congressional elections and invalidating the results of this year’s primary elections. The state’s leaders said that without a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court, North Carolina’s electoral system would be thrown into chaos, with confused voters unsure of who represents them, what candidates they can choose, and when they’re permitted to decide on their federal representation.
Further, the state would be unable to hold elections in time for North Carolina’s Congressional delegation to be seated at the beginning of the 116th Congress.
In a joint statement, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said, “What the court suggests is simply impossible. We are not aware of any other time in the history of our country that a state’s Congressional delegation could not be seated, and the result would be unmitigated chaos and irreparable voter confusion. The Supreme Court must step in to correct this disastrous decision.”
In the two cases that were decided in the most recent term by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court heard all of the same arguments and theories advanced by the North Carolina plaintiffs, and the Court did not embrace those standards. The three-judge panel that decided the North Carolina case champions these same legal arguments, directly contradicting what the Supreme Court decided as recently as two months ago.
In 2016, a judicial panel issued a similar decision, proposing to force the state to hold off-cycle, odd-year legislative elections. The Supreme Court granted a stay and even chastised the lower court for failing to carefully consider the negative effects of such an order on the voters in the state.
In yesterday’s decision, the three-judge panel forecast voiding the results of primaries and canceling the November election for Congress. Such an action would irreparably disrupt campaigns from both major parties across the state that have been organizing, raising money and trying to win over voters.
Further, the state’s elections machinery cannot accommodate the court’s proposed action, according to an affidavit by Kim Strach, Executive Director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
The earliest a new election could be scheduled in accordance with normal procedure would mean that North Carolinians would not be able to elect representatives to the 116th Congress until after that Congress was seated.
The outcome of the federal court canceling North Carolina congressional elections would be denying North Carolinians their right to vote and denying them any representation in Congress when it meets next year.
State legislative leaders expect to pursue a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.