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).)