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Charlotte Mayor Worried Census Delays Could Jeopardize Fall Elections

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Tom Bullock
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WFAE
Charlotte City Council is reviewing the impact of census delays on the upcoming city election in the fall.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles asked the City Council budget committee to look at the impact that census delays could have on this fall’s municipal elections.

It’s possible the elections for City Council and mayor could be delayed until 2022.

Lyles alluded to the complexity of the situation by saying the city needs to have “a plan and another plan and maybe another plan.”

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board could also be impacted. Its district members are on the ballot this fall.

In part because of the pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau has said that detailed data that will allow states and municipalities to draw new districts likely won’t be released until the end of July.

Candidate filing is scheduled to start before that, on July 26.

It’s possible Charlotte and the school board could move forward with their elections as scheduled. However, they could get sued because their districts wouldn’t be the right size and not in compliance with federal legal precedence of “one man, one vote.”

North Carolina also prohibits districts from being more than 5% larger or smaller than another district in the same government.

If boundaries aren't changed, both the city and school board would have districts that would be out of compliance.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections this week advised candidates to monitor the situation because filing could be delayed in elections using districts.

There is also an existing state law that allows for elections to delayed until the following year if new maps can’t be drawn in time. That law was passed in 1990 to prepare for possible delays with that census.

City Council member Braxton Winston asked whether the census problems might also delay a possibly countywide referendum on an increase in the transit sales tax.

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