A hot new trend is sweeping North Carolina campaigns this year: Trying to get your opponents disqualified and kicked off the ballot before Election Day. I’m surprised this tactic hasn’t been used heavily before. Why go to the trouble to raise money and campaign on issues when you could just knock out the other candidate on a technicality and run unopposed? These sort of complaints filed with elections boards aren’t new, but there have been at least a dozen or so this year (the state elections board doesn’t have an exact figure) — far more than past cycles. The majority are residency challenges — complaints that a candidate doesn’t actually live in the district where he or she is running for office. Normally, the state constitution requires candidates to live in their district for at least a year before Election Day. But a redistricting lawsuit has prompted last-minute changes in legislative district lines, so the courts dropped that requirement for this year.
The new districts sent politicians scrambling to move into districts where they have the strongest chance of victory. That included several incumbent legislators who looked at the demographics of their new district and felt a sudden urge to relocate.
Many of those candidates now face residency challenges. The complaints are difficult to prove without stalking someone to see which house they’re sleeping at. In one case, someone actually hired a private eye to follow a candidate.