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The 2022 midterm elections are the first of the Biden era. They're also the first since the 2020 census, which means there are new congressional districts. There are U.S. Senate races in the Carolinas as well, along with many state and local races.

Here's how North Carolina's primary impacts the Senate and House races around Charlotte

Election worker assisting voters with curbside voting
Coleen Harry
Election workers assist people with curbside voting in Mount Holly, North Carolina, in 2020.

North Carolina’s primary is on May 17, and it’ll help voters decide which congressional candidates are on the ballot in November. Here are some things you should know.

Which candidates are in the congressional primary?

Congress includes the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. Senators are chosen by voters from across the state while members of the House of Representatives are chosen by voters in smaller districts.

Who’s running for Senate?

North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race is one of the most closely watched contests in the country. Senators serve six-year terms. Right now, North Carolina has two Republican senators: Richard Burr and Thom Tillis. Burr isn’t running for reelection, so both major political parties are fielding candidates to replace him. And since North Carolina is a competitive state, it’s viewed as a seat that Democrats could pick up or Republicans could keep — thus helping determine the balance of power in Washington, where the Senate currently has a razor-thin Democratic voting majority.

When candidate filing ended in February, 26 people had formally decided to run — 11 Democrats, 14 Republicans and one Libertarian.

On the Democratic side, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley is widely considered the frontrunner.

On the Republican side, the three candidates getting the most attention are Ted Budd, Pat McCrory and Mark Walker. Budd is a current member of the U.S. House who was endorsed by former President Trump. McCrory is a former North Carolina governor and Charlotte mayor. And Walker is a pastor and former member of the U.S. House.

Below are the campaign websites for candidates who have them. We’ll list more as we can find them: Constance Johnson, Rett Newton, Chrelle Booker, Cheri Beasley, Greg Antoine, Tobias LaGrone, Marcus Williams, James Carr, B.K. MaginnisRobert Colon, Shannon Bray, Jen Banwart, Lichia Sibhatu, Pat McCrory, Drew Bulecza, Ted Budd, Kenneth Harper, Mark Walker and Marjorie Eastman.

Which congressional districts cover Charlotte?

There are four U.S. House districts in North Carolina that cover the general Charlotte metro area: the 8th, 10th, 12th and 14th districts.

(It’s worth noting that South Carolina’s 5th U.S. House District covers the York County area, which is part of the Charlotte region, and the S.C. primary is June 14. Here’s some info.)

Charlotte itself is divided between the 12th and 14th districts.

Below are websites for Charlotte-area U.S. House candidates, and we’ll add more as we can find them: Dan Bishop, Scott Huffman, Pam Genant, Richard Speer, Patrick McHenry, Michael Magnotta, Alma Adams, John Sharkey, Tyler Lee, Ram Mammadov, Jeff Jackson, Jonathan Simpson and Pat Harrigan.

How did redistricting change congressional districts?

Redistricting happens every 10 years, and it’s based on data from the U.S. census. Each U.S. House district needs to have a roughly equal population. In North Carolina’s case, the 2020 census showed the state had about 10.4 million residents, enough to add a new congressional district. There are now 14 districts, each with roughly 745,000 residents.

Redistricting didn’t affect the Senate race because anyone in the state can vote for Senate candidates. But there are new maps for U.S. House districts. After a lotof back and forth in the legislature and the courts, North Carolina’s maps for the 2022 election are set. The biggest change on the congressional front is that the 14th District is completely new.

(Note: Use the slider tool above to see how congressional districts changed from 2020 to 2022.) 

First, the old: In 2020, Charlotte and Mecklenburg County were almost entirely swallowed up by the Democratic-leaning 12th District, with a little bit of the Republican-leaning 9th District thrown in. Other districts in the metro area included the 5th, 8th, 10th and 13th, which all went Republican.

Now, the new: In 2022, the Charlotte metro is mostly covered by just four districts: 8, 10, 12 and 14. Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are split between the 12th and 14th, which are both expected to lean Democratic. The western and northwestern outlying counties are in the 10th District and the eastern and northeastern outlying counties are in the 8th District.

There’s one candidate shakeup to know about. Current 9th District incumbent Dan Bishop (R) is switching to the 8th District, where he’ll face Democrat Scott Huffman. Both are unopposed in their primaries and will advance to November. Two longtime incumbents, Alma Adams (D) of the 12th and Patrick McHenry (R) of the 10th, are seeking reelection and both face primary challengers. No one’s ever represented the 14th before, so there are open primaries on both sides. So far the candidate there who’s gotten the most buzz is Jeff Jackson, a Democratic state lawmaker from Charlotte.

Which district am I in?

Want to see which district you live in? You can just type your address in this interactive map provided by the North Carolina General Assembly.

How can I vote?

You can vote in person in two ways for the primary. First, you can vote onelectionday, May 17, at your precinct. It’s important to know that you must have registered to vote by April 22 to vote in person on election day for the primary.

If you miss that registration deadline or you’d rather not deal with the lines on election day but still prefer the in-person method, you can vote early. Early voting starts on April 28 and runs through May 14. There are two key things to know: 1, you can vote at any one-stop early voting site in your county, and 2, you can register to vote on site — even if you miss that April 22 registration deadline.

You can also vote by mail. Here’s some information from the state about how to do that.

What are the important dates?

April 22 is the voter-registration deadline for the primary if you plan to vote in person on election day or by mail. 

April 28 is when early, in-person voting begins.

May 10 is the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot if you want to vote by mail in the primary.

May 14 is the last day of early, in-person voting. If you didn’t already register to vote in the primary, this is your last chance — but you can only do it on site while voting early.

May 17 is election day. It’s also the last day for absentee ballots to be submitted. 

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Dash joined WFAE as a digital editor for news and engagement in 2019. Before that, he was a reporter for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia, where he covered public safety and the military, among other topics. He also covered county government in Gaston County, North Carolina, for its local newspaper, the Gazette.