Subchapter x. election of appellate, superior, and district court judges.

Article 25.

Nomination and Election of Appellate, Superior, and District Court Judges.

§ 163-321.  Applicability.

The nomination and election of justices of the Supreme Court, judges of the Court of Appeals, and superior and district court judges of the General Court of Justice shall be as provided by this Article. Retention elections of Justices of the Supreme Court shall be as provided in Article 1A of Chapter 7A of the General Statutes.  (1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 7; 2001-403, s. 1; 2002-158, s. 7; 2015-66, s. 6.)

 

§ 163-322.  Nonpartisan primary election method.

(a)        General. - Except as provided in G.S. 163-329, there shall be a primary to narrow the field of candidates to two candidates for each position to be filled if, when the filing period closes, there are more than two candidates for a single office or the number of candidates for a group of offices exceeds twice the number of positions to be filled. If only one or two candidates file for a single office, no primary shall be held for that office and the candidates shall be declared nominated. If the number of candidates for a group of offices does not exceed twice the number of positions to be filled, no primary shall be held for those offices and the candidates shall be declared nominated.

(b)        Determination of Nominees. - In the primary, the two candidates for a single office receiving the highest number of votes, and those candidates for a group of offices receiving the highest number of votes, equal to twice the number of positions to be filled, shall be declared nominated. If two or more candidates receiving the highest number of votes each receive the same number of votes, the State Board of Elections shall determine their relative ranking by lot, and shall declare the nominees accordingly. The canvass of the primary shall be held on the same date as the primary canvass fixed under G.S. 163-182.5. The canvass shall be conducted in accordance with Article 15A of this Chapter.

(c)        Determination of Election Winners. - In the election, the names of those candidates declared nominated without a primary and those candidates nominated in the primary shall be placed on the ballot. The candidate for a single office receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected. Those candidates for a group of offices receiving the highest number of votes, equal in number to the number of positions to be filled, shall be elected. If two candidates receiving the highest number of votes each received the same number of votes, the State Board of Elections shall determine the winner by lot. (1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 7; 2003-278, s. 10(j).)

 

§ 163-323.  Notice of candidacy.

(a)        Form of Notice. - Each person offering to be a candidate for election shall do so by filing a notice of candidacy with the State Board of Elections in the following form, inserting the words in parentheses when appropriate:

Date ______________________________

I hereby file notice that I am a candidate for election to the office of _______________ in the regular election to be held __________, __________.

Signed ______________________________

                                                                                                    (Name of Candidate)

Witness:              ________________________________________________________________

The notice of candidacy shall be either signed in the presence of the chairman or secretary of the State Board of Elections, or signed and acknowledged before an officer authorized to take acknowledgments who shall certify the notice under seal. An acknowledged and certified notice may be mailed to the State Board of Elections. In signing a notice of candidacy, the candidate shall use only the candidate's legal name and, in his discretion, any nickname by which commonly known. A candidate may also, in lieu of that candidate's first name and legal middle initial or middle name, if any, sign that candidate's nickname, provided the candidate appends to the notice of candidacy an affidavit that the candidate has been commonly known by that nickname for at least five years prior to the date of making the affidavit. The candidate shall also include with the affidavit the way the candidate's name (as permitted by law) should be listed on the ballot if another candidate with the same last name files a notice of candidacy for that office.

A notice of candidacy signed by an agent or any person other than the candidate himself shall be invalid.

(b)        Time for Filing Notice of Candidacy. - Candidates seeking election to the following offices shall file their notice of candidacy with the State Board of Elections no earlier than 12:00 noon on the second Monday in February and no later than 12:00 noon on the last business day in February preceding the election:

Justices of the Supreme Court.

Judges of the Court of Appeals.

Judges of the superior courts.

Judges of the district courts.

(c)        Withdrawal of Notice of Candidacy. - Any person who has filed a notice of candidacy for an office shall have the right to withdraw it at any time prior to the close of business on the third business day prior to the date on which the right to file for that office expires under the terms of subsection (b) of this section.

(d)       Certificate That Candidate Is Registered Voter. - Candidates shall file along with their notice a certificate signed by the chairman of the board of elections or the director  of elections of the county in which they are registered to vote, stating that the person is registered to vote in that county, and if the candidacy is for superior court judge and the county contains more than one superior court district, stating the superior court district of which the person is a resident. In issuing such certificate, the chairman or director shall check the registration records of the county to verify such information. During the period commencing 36 hours immediately preceding the filing deadline, the State Board of Elections shall accept, on a conditional basis, the notice of candidacy of a candidate who has failed to secure the verification ordered herein subject to receipt of verification no later than three days following the filing deadline. The State Board of Elections shall prescribe the form for such certificate, and distribute it to each county board of elections no later than the last Monday in December of each odd-numbered year.

(e)        Candidacy for More Than One Office Prohibited. - No person may file a notice of candidacy for more than one office or group of offices described in subsection (b) of this section, or for an office or group of offices described in subsection (b) of this section and an office described in G.S. 163-106(c), for any one election. If a person has filed a notice of candidacy with a board of elections under this section or under G.S. 163-106(c) for one office or group of offices, then a notice of candidacy may not later be filed for any other office or group of offices under this section when the election is on the same date unless the notice of candidacy for the first office is withdrawn under subsection (c) of this section.

(f)        Notice of Candidacy for Certain Offices to Indicate Vacancy. - In any election in which there are two or more vacancies for the office of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, or district court judge to be filled by nominations, each candidate shall, at the time of filing notice of candidacy, file with the State Board of Elections a written statement designating the vacancy to which the candidate seeks election. Votes cast for a candidate shall be effective only for election to the vacancy for which the candidate has given notice of candidacy as provided in this subsection.

A person seeking election for a specialized district judgeship established under G.S. 7A-147 shall, at the time of filing notice of candidacy, file with the State Board of Elections a written statement designating the specialized judgeship to which the person seeks nomination.

(g)        No person may file a notice of candidacy for superior court judge unless that person is at the time of filing the notice of candidacy a resident of the judicial district as it will exist at the time the person would take office if elected. No person may be nominated as a superior court judge under G.S. 163-114 unless that person is at the time of nomination a resident of the judicial district as it will exist at the time the person would take office if elected. This subsection implements Article IV, Section 9(1) of the North Carolina Constitution which requires regular Superior Court Judges to reside in the district for which elected.

(h)        A candidate for Judge of the Court of Appeals, at the time of filing the notice of candidacy under this section, shall indicate on the notice of candidacy the political party recognized under Article 9 of this Chapter with which that candidate is affiliated or any unaffiliated status. The certificate required by subsection (d) of this section shall verify the party designation or unaffiliated status, and the verified party designation or unaffiliated status shall be included on the ballot.  (1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 7; 1998-217, s. 36(a); 2001-403, s. 1; 2001-466, s. 5.1(b); 2002-158, s. 7; 2002-159, s. 21(g); 2013-381, s. 21.3; 2015-292, s. 2.)

 

§ 163-324.  Filing fees required of candidates; refunds.

(a)        Fee Schedule. - At the time of filing a notice of candidacy under this Article, each candidate shall pay to the State Board of Elections a filing fee for the office he seeks in the amount of one percent (1%) of the annual salary of the office sought.

(b)        Refund of Fees. - If any person who has filed a notice of candidacy and paid the filing fee prescribed in subsection (a) of this section withdraws his notice of candidacy within the period prescribed in G.S. 163-323(c), he shall be entitled to have the fee he paid refunded. The chairman of the State Board of Elections shall cause a warrant to be drawn on the State Treasurer for the refund payment.

If any person who has filed a notice of candidacy and paid the filing fee prescribed in subsection (a) of this section dies prior to the date of the election, the personal representative of the estate shall be entitled to have the fee refunded if application is made to the board of elections to which the fee was paid no later than one year after the date of death, and refund shall be made in the same manner as in withdrawal of notice of candidacy. (1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 7.)

 

§ 163-325.  Petition in lieu of payment of filing fee.

(a)        General. - Any qualified voter who seeks election under this Article may, in lieu of payment of any filing fee required for the office he seeks, file a written petition requesting him to be a candidate for a specified office with the State Board of Elections.

(b)        Requirements of Petition; Deadline for Filing. - If the candidate is seeking the office of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, or superior or district court judge, that individual shall file a written petition with the State Board of Elections no later than 12:00 noon on Monday preceding the filing deadline before the primary. If the office is justice of the Supreme Court or judge of the Court of Appeals, the petition shall be signed by 8,000 registered voters in the State. If the office is superior court or district court judge, the petition shall be signed by five percent (5%) of the registered voters of the election area in which the office will be voted for. The board of elections shall verify the names on the petition, and if the petition and notice of candidacy are found to be sufficient, the candidate's name shall be printed on the appropriate ballot. Petitions must be presented to the county board of elections for verification at least 15 days before the petition is due to be filed with the State Board of Elections. The State Board of Elections may adopt rules to implement this section and to provide standard petition forms.  (1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 7; 2001-403, s. 1; 2002-158, s. 7; 2013-381, s. 22.2.)

 

§ 163-326.  Certification of notices of candidacy.

(a)        Names of Candidates Sent to Secretary of State. - Within three days after the time for filing notices of candidacy with the State Board of Elections under the provisions of G.S. 163-323(b) has expired, the chairman or secretary of that Board shall certify to the Secretary of State the name and address of each person who has filed with the State Board of Elections, indicating in each instance the office sought.

(b)        Notification of Local Boards. - No later than 10 days after the time for filing notices of candidacy under the provisions of G.S. 163-323(b) has expired, the chairman of the State Board of Elections shall certify to the chairman of the county board of elections in each county in the appropriate district the names of candidates for nomination to the offices of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, and superior and district court judge who have filed the required notice and paid the required filing fee or presented the required petition to the State Board of Elections, so that their names may be printed on the official judicial ballot for justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, and superior and district court.

(c)        Receipt of Notification by County Board. - Within two days after receipt of each of the letters of certification from the chairman of the State Board of Elections required by subsection (b) of this section, each county elections board chairman shall acknowledge receipt by letter addressed to the chairman of the State Board of Elections. (1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 7; 2001-403, s. 1; 2002-158, s. 7.)

 

§ 163-327: Repealed by Session Laws 2006-192, s. 9(a), effective August 3, 2006, and applicable to vacancies occurring on or after August 3, 2006.

 

§ 163-327.1.  Rules when vacancies for superior court judge are to be voted on.

If a vacancy occurs in a judicial district for any offices of superior court judge, and on account of the occurrence of such vacancy, there is to be an election for one or more terms in that district to fill the vacancy or vacancies, at that same election in accordance with G.S. 163-9 and Article IV, Section 19 of the North Carolina Constitution, the nomination and election shall be determined by the following special rules in addition to any other provisions of law:

(1)        If the vacancy occurs prior to the opening of the filing period under G.S. 163-323(b), nominations shall be made by primary election as provided by this Article, without designation as to the vacancy.

(2)        If the vacancy occurs beginning on opening of the filing period under G.S. 163-323(b), and ending on the sixtieth day before the general election, candidate filing shall be as provided by G.S. 163-329 without designation as to the vacancy.

(3)        The general election ballot shall contain, without designation as to vacancy, spaces for the election to fill the vacancy where nominations were made or candidates filed under subdivision (1) or (2) of this section. Except as provided in G.S. 163-329, the persons receiving the highest numbers of votes equal to the term or terms to be filled shall be elected to the term or terms. (2001-460, s. 10; 2006-192, s. 8(b).)

 

§ 163-328.  Failure of candidates to file; death or other disqualification of a candidate; no withdrawal from candidacy.

(a)        Insufficient Number of Candidates. - If when the filing period expires, candidates have not filed for an office to be filled under this Article, the State Board of Elections shall extend the filing period for five days for any such offices.

(a1)      Death or Disqualification of Candidate Before Primary. - If a candidate for nomination in a primary dies or becomes disqualified before the primary but after the ballots have been printed, the State Board of Elections shall determine whether or not there is time to reprint the ballots. If the Board determines that there is not enough time to reprint the ballots, the deceased or disqualified candidate's name shall remain on the ballots. If that candidate receives enough votes for nomination, such votes shall be disregarded and the candidate receiving the next highest number of votes below the number necessary for nomination shall be declared nominated. If the death or disqualification of the candidate leaves only two candidates for each office to be filled, the nonpartisan primary shall not be held and all candidates shall be declared nominees.

(b)        Earlier Non-Primary Vacancies; Reopening Filing. - If there is no primary because only one or two candidates have filed for a single office, or the number of candidates filed for a group of offices does not exceed twice the number of positions to be filled, or if a primary has occurred and eliminated candidates, and thereafter a remaining candidate dies or otherwise becomes disqualified before the election and before the ballots are printed, the State Board of Elections shall, upon notification of the death or other disqualification, immediately reopen the filing period for an additional five days during which time additional candidates shall be permitted to file for election. If the ballots have been printed at the time the State Board of Elections receives notice of the candidate's death or other disqualification, the Board shall determine whether there will be sufficient time to reprint them before the election if the filing period is reopened for three days. If the Board determines that there will be sufficient time to reprint the ballots, it shall reopen the filing period for three days to allow other candidates to file for election, and that election shall be conducted as provided in G.S. 163-329(b1).

(c)        Later Vacancies; Ballots Not Reprinted. - If the ballots have been printed at the time the State Board of Elections receives notice of a candidate's death or other disqualification, and if the Board determines that there is not enough time to reprint the ballots before the election if the filing period is reopened for three days, then regardless of the number of candidates remaining for the office or group of offices, the ballots shall not be reprinted and the name of the vacated candidate shall remain on the ballots. If a vacated candidate should poll the highest number of votes in the election for a single office or enough votes to be elected to one of a group of offices, the State Board of Elections shall declare the office vacant and it shall be filled in the manner provided by law.

(d)       No Withdrawal Permitted of Living, Qualified Candidate After Close of Filing. - After the close of the candidate filing period, a candidate who has filed a notice of candidacy for the office, who has not withdrawn notice before the close of filing as permitted by G.S. 163-323(b), who remains alive, and has not become disqualified for the office may not withdraw his or her candidacy. That candidate's name shall remain on the ballot, any votes cast for the candidacy shall be counted in primary or election, and if the candidate wins, the candidate may fail to qualify by refusing to take the oath of office.

(e)        Death, Disqualification, or Failure to Qualify After Election. - If a person elected to the office of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, or superior or district court judge dies or becomes disqualified on or after election day and before he has qualified by taking the oath of office, or fails to qualify by refusing to take the oath of office, the office shall be deemed vacant and shall be filled as provided by law. (1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 7; 1999-424, s. 4(b); 2006-192, s. 9(b).)

 

§ 163-329.  Elections to fill vacancy in office created after primary filing period opens.

(a)        General. - If a vacancy is created in the office of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, or judge of superior court after the filing period for the primary opens but more than 60 days before the general election, and under the Constitution of North Carolina an election is to be held for that position, such that the office shall be filled in the general election as provided in G.S. 163-9, the election to fill the office for the remainder of the term shall be conducted without a primary using the method provided in subsection (b1) of this section. If a vacancy is created in the office of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, or judge of superior court before the filing period for the primary opens, and under the Constitution of North Carolina an election is to be held for that position, such that the office shall be filled in the general election as provided in G.S. 163-9, the election to fill the office for the remainder of the term shall be conducted in accordance with G.S. 163-322.

(b)        Repealed by Session Laws 2006-192, s. 8(a), effective August 3, 2006, and applicable to vacancies occurring on or after that date.

(b1)      Method for Vacancy Election. - If a vacancy for the office of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, or judge of the superior court occurs more than 60 days before the general election and after the opening of the filing period for the primary, then the State Board of Elections shall designate a special filing period of one week for candidates for the office. If more than two candidates file and qualify for the office in accordance with G.S. 163-323, then the Board shall conduct the election for the office as follows:

(1)        When the vacancy described in this section occurs more than 63 days before the date of the second primary for members of the General Assembly, a special primary shall be held on the same day as the second primary. The two candidates with the most votes in the special primary shall have their names placed on the ballot for the general election held on the same day as the general election for members of the General Assembly.

(2)        When the vacancy described in this section occurs less than 64 days before the date of the second primary, a general election for all the candidates shall be held on the same day as the general election for members of the General Assembly and the results shall be determined on a plurality basis as provided by G.S. 163-292.

(3)        Repealed by Session Laws 2013-381, s. 51.1, effective January 1, 2014.

(c)        Applicable Provisions. - Except as provided in this section, the provisions of this Article apply to elections conducted under this section.

(d)       Rules. - The State Board of Elections shall adopt rules for the implementation of this section. The rules are not subject to Article 2A of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes. The rules shall include the following:

(1)        If after the first-choice candidate is eliminated, a ballot does not indicate one of the uneliminated candidates as an alternative choice, the ballot is exhausted and shall not be counted after the initial round.

(2)        The fact that the voter does not designate a second or third choice does not invalidate the voter's higher choice or choices.

(3)        The fact that the voter gives more than one ranking to the same candidate shall not invalidate the vote. The highest ranking given a particular candidate shall count as long as the candidate is not eliminated.

(4)        In case of a tie between candidates such that two or more candidates have an equal number of first choices and more than two candidates qualify for the second round, instant runoff voting shall be used to determine which two candidates shall advance to the second round.  (1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 7; 2001-403, s. 12.1; 2002-158, s. 7; 2006-192, s. 8(a); 2013-381, s. 51.1.)

 

§ 163-330.  Voting in primary.

Any person who will become qualified by age to register and vote in the general election for which the primary is held, even though not so qualified by the date of the primary, shall be entitled to register for the primary and general election prior to the primary and then to vote in the primary after being registered. Such person may register not earlier than 60 days nor later than the last day for making application to register under G.S. 163-82.6(c) prior to the primary.  (1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 7; 2009-541, s. 26; 2013-381, s. 16.8.)

 

§ 163-331.  Date of primary.

The primary shall be held on the same date as established for primary elections under G.S. 163-1(b). (1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 7.)

 

§ 163-332.  Ballots.

(a)        General. - In elections there shall be official ballots. The ballots shall be printed to conform to the requirement of G.S. 163-165.6(c) and to show the name of each person who has filed notice of candidacy, and the office for which each aspirant is a candidate.

Only those who have filed the required notice of candidacy with the proper board of elections, and who have paid the required filing fee or qualified by petition, shall have their names printed on the official primary ballots. Only those candidates properly nominated shall have their names appear on the official general election ballots.

(b)        Ballots to Be Furnished by County Board of Elections. - It shall be the duty of the county board of elections to print official ballots for the following offices to be voted for in the primary:

Justice of the Supreme Court.

Judge of the Court of Appeals.

Superior court judge.

District court judge.

In printing ballots, the county board of elections shall be governed by instructions of the State Board of Elections with regard to width, color, kind of paper, form, and size of type.

Three days before the election, the chairman of the county board of elections shall distribute official ballots to the chief judge of each precinct in his county, and the chief judge shall give a receipt for the ballots received. On the day of the primary, it shall be the chief judge's duty to have all the ballots so delivered available for use at the precinct voting place. (1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 7; 2001-403, s. 1; 2001-460, s. 9; 2002-158, s. 7.)

 

§ 163-333: Repealed by Session Laws 2001-398, s. 15.

 

§ 163-334.  Counting of ballots.

Counting of ballots in primaries and elections held under this Article shall be under the same rules as for counting of ballots in nonpartisan municipal elections under Article 24 of this Chapter. (1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 7.)

 

§ 163-335.  Other rules.

(a)        Except as provided by this Article, the conduct of elections shall be governed by Subchapter VI of this Chapter.

(b)        Following election under this Article, a duly elected justice of the Supreme Court may opt for a retention election under Article 1A of Chapter 7A of the General Statutes. Any such retention shall be conducted in accordance with this Chapter except as specifically stated in that Article.  (1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 7; 2015-66, s. 7.)