NC State Board of Elections

WATAUGA — After the 2019 municipal elections, all eyes have turned to the first Monday following Thanksgiving as the filing period for the 2020 elections begins in North Carolina on Dec. 2.

Filing begins at 12 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2, and ends at 12 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 20, giving candidates in more than two dozen races from federal to county level a total of 15 work days to file.

“We’re always grateful to anyone that files to be a candidate in our county and our state,” said Watauga County Board of Elections Director Matt Snyder. “We’re here to support any candidate with information or where to find that information. We’re a resource for everybody filing for office.”

As 2020 is a presidential election year, the primaries will take place on Tuesday, March 3, moved up two weeks from the 2016 primaries. North Carolina’s Republican and Democratic primaries will take place alongside a dozen other states in a day that is coined “Super Tuesday” due to the high number of states participating on the same day.

But North Carolina candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives might not be able to file on Dec. 2. A three-judge panel unanimously ruled in early November that the maps, last approved in 2016, violated the state constitution and encouraged the N.C. General Assembly to draw new maps, which it has since done.

On Nov. 20, the same three-judge panel ruled that it would hear the arguments for and against the new maps at 9 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 2, just three hours before filing is set to begin. The court also ruled that filing cannot take place before it rules on the matter.

The proposed maps passed by the NCGA in an effort to comply with the ruling would reshape the Fifth District, which Avery, Watauga and Ashe have been in for years. If approved, the new maps would put Avery into the 11th District with most of Western North Carolina and shift the Fifth District southward, but keep Watauga and Ashe counties in the Fifth.

If the courts do not accept the proposed U.S. Congressional maps for North Carolina, the filing period for the U.S. House of Representatives would be delayed, according to the court ruling, and likely delay the primaries for those races.

In North Carolina, several federal and state offices will be contested in 2020. U.S. president, U.S. senator, N.C. governor, N.C. lieutenant governor, N.C. attorney general, N.C. auditor, N.C. commissioner of agriculture, N.C. commissioner of insurance, N.C. commissioner of labor, N.C. secretary of state. N.C. superintendent of public instruction and N.C. treasurer will be contested in partisan elections.

A number of N.C. Supreme Court, N.C. Court of Appeals, and N.C. District Court judges will also be up for election on partisan ballots.

Avery and Watauga are in N.C. Judicial District 24, which also serves Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties. Ashe County is located in N.C. Judicial District 23, which also serves Alleghany, Wilkes and Yadkin counties.

Currently, the N.C. General Assembly primaries are not listed on state election notices generated by each county. However, both N.C. Senate and N.C. House seats will be up for re-election in 2020.

The High Country was not affected by the court-mandated redistricting of the NCGA’s 50 state Senate and 120 state House districts. Ashe and Watauga remain N.C. House District 93 and Avery remains in N.C. House District 85 along with Mitchell and McDowell counties. In the N.C. Senate, Avery remains in N.C. Senate District 46 with Burke and Caldwell counties while Ashe and Watauga remain in N.C. Senate District 45 with Alleghany, Wilkes and the western half of Surry counties.

Locally, the Watauga County Commissioner seats of Democrats John Welch and Charlie Wallin as well as Republican Perry Yates are up for election in 2020. The races for each seat are separate as each commissioner represents a district, but the entire county votes for all of the seats. In the races, the top two vote-getting winners receive four-year terms while the third highest vote-getting winner gets a two-year term.

In the Watauga County Board of Education, three seats will be contested in 2020. The seats of Ron Henries, Brenda Reese and Steve Combs will be contested in a single race where the top three vote-getters are elected. The top two get four-year terms while third place gets a two-year term. Board of Education candidates do not have their political party marked on the ballot.

The Watauga County Register of Deeds seat will be up for election in 2020 for a four-year term.

According to Snyder, candidates for Watauga County Board of Education, Watauga County Commissioners, Watauga County Register of Deeds and the NCGA candidates based in Watauga can file at their office in downtown Boone. Statewide and federal candidates must file at the N.C. State Board of Elections office in Raleigh.

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