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Stories about North Carolina

North Dakota enacts new state legislative maps

On Nov. 11, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) signed a new state legislative map following the 2020 redistricting cycle. The House approved the map in a 73-18 vote on Nov. 9, and the Senate approved the map in a 40-7 vote on Nov. 10. 

The map was drafted by the Legislative Redistricting Committee, which had fourteen Republican members and two Democratic members. The state maintained its 47 legislative districts, but three new districts were placed near more populous areas and three districts were removed from less populous rural areas.

After signing the map, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) released a statement saying: “We appreciate the Legislature and the interim redistricting committee for their fairness, diligence and transparency as they conducted this important process, which is key to ensuring a representative democracy.” The Dickinson Press reported that Rep. Mike Schatz (R) said “the map is geographically absurd and […] has been gerrymandered,” with Schatz saying: “I cannot for the life of me figure out why they would make this. They’re really pushing those of us who don’t like their map into a corner, and that’s frustrating for me.”

The state legislature completed legislative redistricting during a special session that began on Nov. 8. Since North Dakota was apportioned one single at-large U.S. House seat, they do not need to draft a congressional map.

Redistricting timeline updates: New York, North Dakota, and South Carolina continue to hold public meetings

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting timeline updates from New York, North Dakota, and South Carolina.

New York: The New York Independent Redistricting Commission announced a second round of public hearings on map proposals to be held between Oct. 20 and Nov. 23, 2021. The first deadline for the commission to submit map proposals to the legislature for approval is Jan. 1, 2022, and the second deadline is Jan. 15, 2022.

North Dakota: The North Dakota Legislative Redistricting Committee continues to hold meetings, including a meeting for public input on the partial proposed redistricting maps on September 22. Additional meetings are scheduled for September 28 and 29 at the State Capitol Building in Bismarck.

South Carolina: House Majority Leader Gary Simrill (R) announced on September 22 that the South Carolina House will return in December to approve new district maps. The House Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee continues to hold public meetings through October 4, 2021.

Durham to hold municipal primary election on Oct. 5

The municipal primary election in Durham, N.C., is on Oct. 5. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for Nov. 2. The filing deadline to run passed on Aug. 13.

Seven candidates filed to run in the nonpartisan mayoral primary. The incumbent mayor Steve Schewel did not file to run for re-election. Candidates also filed to run for three seats on the seven-seat city council.

Durham is the fourth-largest city in North Carolina and the 81st-largest city in the U.S. by population.

North Carolina court strikes down voter ID law as unconstitutional

On Sept.17, 2021, a three-judge panel of the Wake County Superior Court ruled 2-1 that North Carolina’s voter ID law violates the state constitution. As a result, the court blocked enforcement of the law.

The court found that “the evidence at trial [is] sufficient to show that the enactment of [the voter ID law] was motivated at least in part by an unconstitutional intent to target African American voters.” The court also ruled that “[o]ther, less restrictive voter ID laws would have sufficed to achieve the legitimate nonracial purposes of implementing the constitutional amendment requiring voter ID, deterring fraud, or enhancing voter confident.” Judges Michael O’Foghludha and Vince M. Rozier Jr. formed the majority. Judge Nathaniel J. Poovey dissented. Sam Hayes, general counsel for House Speaker Tim Moore (R), said Moore would appeal the ruling.

The court’s order represents its final judgment on the matter. The court had previously issued a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the law on a temporary basis, pending resolution on the merits.

This ruling is the most recent in a series of legal developments involving North Carolina’s voter ID law. On Nov. 6, 2018, North Carolina voters approved a state constitutional amendment establishing a photo identification requirement for voters. The state legislature, with Republican majorities in both chambers, approved implementing legislation (SB 824) in December of that year, overriding Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto. Lawsuits immediately followed, both in federal and state-level courts. In December 2019, a federal district court temporarily enjoined SB 824, but this ruling was subsequently overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The state lawsuit giving rise to the Sept. 17 order has been ongoing since 2019.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoes bill on nonprofit donation disclosure and privacy

On Sept. 3, 2021, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed S636, a bill making donations to nonprofit corporations confidential.

S636 prohibited the public disclosure of the “identity of any person donating monies or other tangible goods to the nonprofit corporation…if the person has notified the nonprofit corporation, in writing prior to or at the time of the donation.” Donor information would not be considered a public record, and nonprofit membership lists could not be “obtained or used by any person for any purpose unrelated to a member’s interest as a member” without the consent of the organization’s board of directors. Government employees who disclosed such information would be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

“This legislation is unnecessary and may limit transparency with political contributions,” Cooper said in a press release following the veto.

The bill’s supporters say it would protect donors from harassment or discrimination based on the organizations they choose to support. People United for Privacy lobbyist Susan Vick said donations “are often deeply personal and potentially put us at odds with what family members or friends believe is a worthy cause. This bill simply protects donor lists from being required for disclosure under the guise of state action as we’ve seen in other states.” State Sen. Norm Sanderson (R), who sponsored the bill, said the bill does not change current campaign disclosure laws in North Carolina, and that investigators would still be able to get donor records with a subpoena. “It does not change any law that is currently in North Carolina,” Sanderson said. 

Opponents say the bill would decrease transparency around political campaign contributions and allow politically active nonprofits to hide their donors. Melissa Price Kromm, director of the North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections Coalition, said the bill “protects wealthy special interest and dark money groups,” In response to bill supporters who say it protects donors’ free speech and privacy, State Rep. Marcia Morey (D) said “That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about money… money that has power to influence and oftentimes money that has power to corrupt.”

S636 passed the North Carolina House 59-33 on Aug. 19 with one Democrat, Rep. Abe Jones, voting in favor of the bill. The Senate approved the bill on August 25 in a 25-19 vote along party lines. Lawmakers must have a three-fifths majority vote in both chambers of the General Assembly to override Cooper’s veto, and neither party currently has a veto-proof majority in either chamber.

Ballotpedia is currently tracking 39 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure and privacy that have been introduced this year.

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Campaign finance update: Top fundraisers in North Carolina

Campaign finance requirements govern the raising and spending of money for political campaigns. While not the only factor in an election’s outcome, successful fundraising can provide a candidate with advantages, such as the ability to boost name recognition and promote a message. In addition, fundraising can indicate enthusiasm for candidates and parties.

This article lists the top individual fundraisers in North Carolina by their party affiliation as well as the top ten fundraisers overall. It is based on campaign finance reports that active North Carolina candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE). It includes activity between Jan. 1, 2021, and June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

Top North Carolina Fundraisers

The top fundraisers in North Carolina elections are shown below. For the purpose of this article, fundraisers may include individuals who are on the ballot this election cycle as well as those not currently running for office but who have received contributions during this reporting period. Individuals are listed with the office that they held at the time of publication, if applicable.

In the Democratic party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

In the Republican party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

Fundraising Totals

Overall, the top North Carolina Democratic candidate PACs raised $1.70 million in this period. The top Republican candidate PACs raised $961,124. North Carolina candidate PACs in the Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, filing period raised a total of $5.42 million. Combined, these North Carolina candidates account for 49% of total fundraising.

Contributions to the top five Democratic candidates made up 69% of the total amount reported by their party’s campaigns. Contributions to the top five Republican fundraisers comprised 41% of the total amount reported by Republican campaigns.

The table below provides additional data from the campaign finance reports from the top ten fundraisers. For more information on fundraising and spending for North Carolina races on the 2022 ballot, click here.

NameParty AffiliationRaised this periodSpent this period
Josh SteinDemocratic Party$875,809$126,325
Phil BergerRepublican Party$384,827$74,684
Sam SearcyDemocratic Party$381,210$3,383
Mary-Ann BaldwinNonpartisan$302,791$31,879
Timothy K. MooreRepublican Party$193,440$67,792
Robert C. ErvinDemocratic Party$185,292$25,119
Roy CooperDemocratic Party$176,658$197,130
Donnie HarrisonRepublican Party$146,092$37,101
Brent JacksonRepublican Party$130,011$27,043
Richard DietzRepublican Party$106,753$13,778

Campaign Finance Reporting Periods

The reports filed with the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) cover Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs in North Carolina must file semiannual financial reports of their fundraising and campaign spending. During election years, candidate PACs also file additional financial reports before primary and general elections.

The next semiannual campaign finance reporting deadline for North Carolina legislators and candidates will include activity between July 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.

North Carolina General Assembly enacts bill postponing 2021 municipal elections to 2022

The delayed release of 2020 block-level data by the U.S. Census Bureau has led the state of North Carolina to delay municipal elections currently scheduled for 2021. 

A bill postponing this year’s municipal elections in North Carolina to 2022 became law on June 28. It affects elections in at least 35 municipalities, including Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, and Raleigh. 

The bill, SB722, applies to any municipality holding elections in 2021 for officers representing a subdivision within the municipality, such as a city council ward. In other words, this change does not affect mayoral elections. SB722 allows municipalities holding elections for at-large offices to proceed as scheduled in 2021.

Once the U.S. Census Bureau releases raw 2020 block-level data in mid-August, the municipalities will make any needed changes to their electoral districts. In previous census cycles, the bureau delivered block-level data in the spring. 

Current officeholders in affected municipalities whose terms were set to expire in 2021 will remain in office until after the elections in 2022. 

The bill (SB722) became law without Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) signature. Cooper said, “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.” 

The North Carolina House of Representatives unanimously approved SB722 on June 9. The North Carolina Senate approved the bill 33-14 on June 14. All votes opposed came from Democrats. Republicans control the chamber 28-22.

New Election Dates

Elections will be rescheduled based on election methods.

For municipalities using either the partisan primary and election method (for example, Charlotte) or the nonpartisan primary and election method (for example, Fayetteville), the primary will take place on March 8, 2022.

The general election will take place on April 26, 2022, unless a primary for the U.S. House or Senate advances to a runoff. In that case, the general election for these municipalities will take place on May 17, 2022.

For municipalities using the nonpartisan plurality method (e.g., Greenville), the general election will take place on March 8, 2022.  

Filing Deadlines

For municipalities that revise their district maps on or before Nov. 17, the candidate filing period for the 2022 elections will open on Dec. 6 and close on Dec. 17. 

For municipalities that revise their district maps between Nov. 18 and Dec. 17, the candidate filing period will open on Jan. 3, 2022, and close on Jan. 7, 2022.  

Municipalities that wish to proceed with at-large elections as scheduled in 2021 must notify their county election boards within five days of the opening of the candidate filing period.   

At least one other state, Illinois, has postponed statewide 2022 primaries by three months in response to the delay.

Stay tuned for more updates as we follow these changes closely throughout the redistricting cycle.

Colorado, Maryland, North Carolina end mask requirements

Three states ended statewide public mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people between May 14 and May 20.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) ended the statewide mask requirement on May 14. Masks are still required for unvaccinated visitors to nursing homes, prisons, and hospitals, and in certain school settings. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people must still comply with federal law, which requires masking on public transportation and at public transportation hubs like bus stations and airports.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) ended the statewide mask mandate on May 15. The state still requires vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks in schools and hospitals, as well as on public transportation.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) ended the statewide mask mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated people on May 14. Masks are still required for all people, regardless of vaccination status, on public transportation and in healthcare settings.

Additionally, at least eight more states amended their existing mask orders to align with the CDC guidance issued May 13, exempting fully vaccinated individuals from most indoor mask requirements. Those states are Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

Thirty-nine states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. Twenty-one states had statewide mask orders at the time of this writing, including 17 of the 23 states with Democratic governors and four out of the 27 states with Republican governors. 

Of those 21 states, six required masks for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Fifteen states exempted fully vaccinated people.

Of the 18 states that have fully ended statewide public mask requirements, 12 have Republican governors, and six have Democratic governors. Fifteen states ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) ended its mandate through court order.

New apportionment data released – six states gain congressional seats, seven states lose seats

On April 26, 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau released it post-2020 census apportionment counts. Six states—Texas (two seats), Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon—gained seats. Seven states—California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia—each lost a seat.

Of the six states that gained congressional seats, three are Republican trifectas (Texas, Florida, and Montana), meaning Republicans control the governorship and majorities in both state legislative chambers in each. Two (Colorado and Oregon) are Democratic trifectas, and one (North Carolina) is a divided government.

Of the seven states that lost congressional seats, three (California, Illinois, and New York) are Democratic trifectas, two (Ohio and West Virginia) are Republican trifectas, and two (Michigan and Pennsylvania) are divided governments.

What is apportionment, and how does it work? Every ten years, the nation conducts the census, a complete count of the U.S. population. The data gleaned from the census determines congressional apportionment. Apportionment is the process by which the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are allotted to the states on the basis of population, as required under Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution. A state can gain seats in the House if its population grows – or lose seats if its population decreases – relative to populations in other states.

After the first census (1790), the 105 members of U.S. House represented about 34,000 residents each. Now, the 435 members of the House will represent an average of 761,169 residents each.

The 2020 census: According to the 2020 census, the resident population of the United States, as of April 1, 2020, was 331,449,281, representing a 7.4 percent increase over the 2010 population. California remained the most populous state with 39,538,223 residents. The population of Texas, the only state to gain multiple congressional seats from apportionment, grew by nearly 4 million residents between 2010 and 2020, reaching 29,145,505. Utah was the fastest-growing state: its population increased by 18.4 percent between 2010 and 2020, reaching 3,271,616.

The census is a complex undertaking. First, the Census Bureau collects data. This involves making a list of every residence (including houses, apartments, dorms, etc.) in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories; asking members of each household in the country to complete the census survey; and following up with those households that did not submit surveys. The Census Bureau then must process the data. This involves making a final list of residential addresses, cross-checking for duplicate responses, and processing write-in responses. The Census Bureau also uses imputation, a statistical method applied “in rare instances” that enables the Census Bureau “to fill in missing information using what we already know about an address and its nearest, similar neighbor.” Typically, upon final processing of the data, the Census Bureau delivers state population and apportionment counts by December 31 in the year of the census. Detailed redistricting data follows by April 1 of the next year.

On November 19, 2020, Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham announced that, “during post-collection processing, certain processing anomalies [had] been discovered.” Dillingham said that he had directed the bureau “to utilize all resources available to resolve this as expeditiously as possible.” On January 27, 2021, Kathleen Styles, a Census Bureau official, announced that the final apportionment report would be delivered by April 30, 2021.

What comes next: The Census Bureau has not yet delivered redistricting data to the states. Upon announcing the 2020 apportionment counts, Acting Census Bureau Director Ron Jarmin said, “Our work doesn’t stop here. Now that the apportionment counts are delivered, we will begin the additional activities needed to create and deliver the redistricting data that were previously delayed due to COVID-19.” The Census Bureau expects to deliver the raw data to the states by August 16. The “full redistricting data with toolkits for ease of us” will be delivered by September 30.

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North Carolina releases new school reopening guidance

On Feb. 2, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced new school guidance and encouraged public K-12 schools to reopen for full-time in-person instruction. The guidance says elementary schools should reopen under Plan A, which does not require social distancing. Middle and high schools should reopen under Plan B, which does require social distancing. Districts still have to provide a remote learning option for families that choose to opt in to remote learning. 

Cooper said he wants to leave the final reopening decisions to school districts. Previously, the state only permitted hybrid or fully remote instruction for middle and high school students.


• Washington, D.C. has a district-ordered school closure.

• Five states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.M., W.Va.) has state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.

• Four states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, Texas) has state-ordered in-person instruction.

• Forty-one states leave decisions to schools or districts.

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