§ 163-165.6. Arrangement of official ballots.
Overview of Statute
Section mandates certain content to be produced on the ballot, and requires such information to be arranged in specific manner.
(a) Order of Precedence Generally.–Candidate ballot items shall be arranged on the official ballot before referenda.
(b) Order of Precedence for Candidate Ballot Items.–The State Board of Elections shall promulgate rules prescribing the order of offices to be voted on the official ballot. Those rules shall adhere to the following guidelines:
(1) Federal offices shall be listed before State and local offices. Member of the United States House of Representatives shall be listed immediately after United States Senator.
(2) State and local offices shall be listed according to the size of the electorate.
(3) Partisan offices, regardless of the size of the constituency, shall be listed before nonpartisan offices.
(4) When offices are in the same class, they shall be listed in alphabetical order by office name, or in numerical or alphabetical order by district name. Governor and Lieutenant Governor, in that order, shall be listed before other Council of State offices. The Supreme Court shall be listed before the Court of Appeals. Judicial offices and district attorney shall be listed, in that order, after other offices in the same class. Mayor shall be listed before other citywide offices. Chair of a board, where elected separately, shall be listed before other board seats having the same electorate. Chief Justice shall be listed before Associate Justices.
(5) Ballot items for full terms of an office shall be listed before ballot items for partial terms of the same office.
(6) Ballot items for retention elections held under Article 1A of Chapter 7A of the General Statutes shall be grouped with like State offices, but shall be listed after offices for which an election is conducted under Article 25 of this Chapter.
(c) Order of Candidates on Official Ballots.–The order in which candidates shall appear on official ballots in any election ballot item shall be either alphabetical order or reverse alphabetical order by the last name of the candidate, which order shall be determined each election by drawing at the State Board after the closing of the filing period for all offices on the ballot.
(d), (e) Repealed by S.L. 2018-99, § 1, eff. June 26, 2018.
(f) No Straight-Party Voting.–Each official ballot shall not contain any place that allows a voter with one mark to vote for the candidates of a party for more than one office.
(g) Write-In Voting.–Each official ballot shall be so arranged so that voters may cast write-in votes for candidates except where prohibited by G.S. 163-123 or other statutes governing write-in votes. Instructions for general election ballots shall clearly advise voters of the rules of this subsection and of the statutes governing write-in voting.
(h) Order of Precedence for Referenda.–Without referencing a numerical order or other reference of order by category or within a category, the referendum questions to be voted on shall be arranged on the official ballot in the following order:
(1) Proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution, in the chronological order in which the proposals were approved by the General Assembly. Proposed amendments shall be designated by only the phrase “Constitutional Amendment” prior to setting forth the referendum question.
(2) Other referenda to be voted on by all voters in the State, in the chronological order in which the proposals were approved by the General Assembly.
(3) Referenda to be voted on by fewer than all the voters in the State, in the chronological order of the acts by which the referenda were properly authorized.
(2001-460, s. 3; 2002-158, s. 14; 2013-381, ss. 31.1, 32.1; 2014-111, s. 2; 2015-66, s. 4; 2016-109, ss. 3, 4(a); 2017-6, s. 3.; 2018-13, s. 3.6; 2018-99, s. 1; 2018-131, s.1(a); 2018-146, s. 3.1(a), (b).)
1. Definition for referendum
The term “referendum” means any question, issue, or act referred to a vote of the people of the entire State by the General Assembly, a unit of local government, or by the people under any applicable local act and includes constitutional amendments and State bond issues. The term “referendum” includes any type of municipal, county, or special district referendum and any initiative or referendum authorized by a municipal charter or local act. A recall election shall not be considered a referendum within the meaning of this Article.
2. Definition for Referendum
“Referendum” means the event in which voters cast votes for or against ballot questions other than the election of candidates to office.
3. Definition for Ballot item
“Ballot item” means a single item on a ballot in which the voters are to choose between or among the candidates or proposals listed.
4. Definition for United States
“United States,” used in the territorial sense, means the several states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
5. Definition for Official ballot
“Official ballot” means a ballot that has been certified by the State Board of Elections and produced by or with the approval of the county board of elections. The term does not include a sample ballot or a specimen ballot.
6. Definition for city
The term “city” means any incorporated city, town, or village.
7. Definition for board
The term “board” means the State Board with respect to all candidates for State, legislative, and judicial offices and the county board of elections with respect to all candidates for county and municipal offices. The term means the State Board with respect to all statewide referenda and the county board of elections conducting all local referenda.
8. Definition for Board
Board. – Any State board, commission, council, committee, task force,
authority, or similar public body, however denominated, created by statute or
executive order, as determined and designated by the State Board, except for
those public bodies that have only advisory authority.
9. Definition for State
“State” means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
10. Definition for Ballot
(Effective until January 1, 2018 or September 1, 2019 – see note) “Ballot” means an instrument on which a voter indicates that voter’s choice for a ballot item so that it may be recorded as a vote for or against a certain candidate or referendum proposal. The term “ballot” may include a paper ballot to be counted by hand, a paper ballot to be counted on an electronic
scanner, the face of a lever voting machine, the image on a direct record electronic unit, or a ballot used on any other voting system.
(Effective January 1, 2018 or September 1, 2019 – see note) “Ballot” means an instrument on which a voter indicates that voter’s choice for a ballot item so that it may be recorded as a vote for or against a certain candidate or referendum proposal, and is evidenced by an individual paper document that bears marks made by the voter by hand or through electronic
means, whether preprinted or printed in the voting enclosure.
11. Definition for Office
(4) Office. – The elected office for which the candidate has filed or petitioned.
(2006-155, s. 1; 2006-259, s. 48(a); 2017-6, s. 3.)
12. Definition for election
The term “election” means any general or special election, a first or second primary, a run-off election, or an election to fill a vacancy. The term “election” shall not include any local or statewide referendum.
13. Definition for Election
“Election” means the event in which voters cast votes in ballot items concerning proposals or candidates for office in this State or the United States. The term includes primaries, general elections, referenda, and special elections.
14. Definition for candidate
The term “candidate” means any individual who, with respect to a public office listed in G.S. 163A-1411(80), has taken positive action for the purpose of bringing about that individual’s nomination, retention, or election to public office. Examples of positive action include any of the following:
a. Filing a notice of candidacy, filing a notice to be retained, or a petition requesting to be a candidate.
b. Being certified as a nominee of a political party for a vacancy.
c. Otherwise qualifying as a candidate in a manner authorized by law.
d. Making a public announcement of a definite intent to run for public office in a particular election.
e. Receiving funds or making payments or giving the consent for anyone else to receive funds or transfer anything of value for the purpose of bringing about that individual’s nomination or election to office. Transferring anything of value includes incurring an obligation to transfer anything of value. Status as a candidate for the purpose of this Article continues if the individual is receiving contributions to repay loans or cover a deficit or is making expenditures to satisfy obligations from an election already held. Special definitions of “candidate” and “candidate campaign committee” that apply only in Part 2 of this Article are set forth in G.S. 163A-1475.
15. Definition for Candidate
“Candidate” means any individual who, with respect to a public office listed in G.S. 163A-1411(80), has filed a notice of candidacy, notice of retention, or a petition requesting to be a candidate, or has been certified as a nominee of a political party for a vacancy, or has otherwise qualified as a candidate in a manner authorized by law, or has filed a statement of organization under G.S. 163A-1412 and is required to file periodic financial disclosure statements under G.S. 163A-1418.
North Carolina Cases
Case Name: In re Election of Cleveland County Com’rs: Protest of Crawford
Citation: 287 S.E.2d 451
Case Summary: A new election was not required where statutes were violated by failure to provide sufficient space allowing voters to write-in persons of their choice for county commissioner, because the courts finding would not alter the election outcome.
Case Name: Holshouser v. Scott
Citation: 335 F.Supp. 928
Federal District Court: Middle District of North Carolina
Case PDF: Holshouser v. Scott
Case Summary: As applied to state judiciary elections, mere showing of disparity among voters or in population figures of the district are not sufficient to strike election procedure. Specifically, the election statute mandating that regular judges be nominated in primary elections conducted in their respective districts, yet elected via statewide general election is valid. Moreover, state constitutional provisions requiring judiciary officials to rotate among districts, or that they reside in their respective districts are constitutional.
Case Name: Hendon v. North Carolina State Bd. of Elections
Citation: 710 F.2d 177
Federal Circuit Court: 4th Circuit Court
Case PDF: Hendon v. NC State Bd of Elections
Case Summary: Failure of ballots to comply fully with statutory requirements by failing to divide ballots into parallel columns separated by district black lines, failure to print party names in large type at the head of each party column, and failure to print instructions in heavy black type did not constitute a violation of due process. Ultimately, there was no indication that failure was other than simple negligence on part of election officials and the ballots used were not substantially confusing or misleading to voters.