Lawmakers in the state Senate were surprised when the House voted Wednesday to hold off on agreement with a much-discussed plan to create two primary elections – the presidential primary in March and the statewide races in May. House Republicans who are in the majority are discussing combining all the primary elections into the earlier March 15 date, saying it would save an estimated $4 million to $6 million by not holding a second primary. Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, a Raleigh Democrat, said the concern about the extra cost had already been discussed. He speculates that House Republicans have another agenda.
Blue said he believes legislative Republicans might be nervous after the state Supreme Court heard arguments on the 2011 redistricting lawsuit Monday. The hearing was prompted by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which raised concern about how districts have been drawn, specifically as it relates to creating districts with large numbers of black voters.
“There is a question as to whether a hidden motive is to try to get the filing period started early in case some court might want to enjoin the upcoming elections because of constitutional violations,” Blue said.
He added that this is also the first election where the new voter ID law will be in effect, and people have been told for years that they had until May 2016 to prepare for it.