The Wake County Board of Elections has opted to appeal a decision by a three-judge panel of the 4th District U.S. Court of Appeals, which ruled earlier this month that elections maps for Wake County school board members and county commissioners were unconstitutional. In doing so, they are asking the full body of the 4th District Court to confirm or reject the findings of the panel which makes up a portion of that body.
The last week or so has seen a flurry of activity once the panel made its decision and Board of Elections members and staff say the ruling puts them in a bind if they hope to have an election in November. It takes a certain amount of time to print ballots that include the proper races for the proper precints and, in a Presidential election year, the ballot is long to begin with.
Appealing the ruling only tightens the calendar because there is no guarantee that the full court will even hear the case, much less rule in the Wake County Board of Elections’ favor. In the meantime, voters aren’t sure which candidates will be running in their districts and they will have precious little time to vet the candidates they will ultimately be asked to choose from.
Wake’s Board of Elections would have been much better off – and voters in Wake County would have been much better off – if the Board of Elections had simply dropped this fight and let the General Assembly or U.S. District Court Judge James C. Dever redraw the maps in a way that would pass constitutional muster. Or, at a minimum, Wake’s Board of Elections could have joined the chorus of those who argue that the best option is to return to old maps that were thrown out when the General Assembly dipped its unwanted toe into a matter for local government.
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In the end, voters will lose in this ordeal. More of their money will go to pay the lawyers who fight this made-up battle and those same voters will be less informed and less likely to make good decisions when they vote in November.