Filing cannot proceed until local election boards receive notification from the state board of elections that the U.S. Dept. of Justice has approved maps of new voting districts.
The state board will meet Monday at 9 a.m., and should notify local boards by 10 a.m., according to Bladen County Elections Supervisor Larry Hammond.
"Right now we are in go-mode," Hammond said. "We can be ready for candidates to begin filing with as little as an hour's notice."
The new districting maps must be approved by the U.S. Dept. of Justice since Bladen and other counties in North Carolina are covered by the voting Rights Act. The VRA requires districts be approved by the federal government to ensure equal representation of minority voters.
Officials also fear a pending lawsuit may delay the May primary.
A group of Republican and Democrat lawmakers and others are considering suing the state legislature over the latest redistricting maps.
The group says the state's election districts were unfairly drawn by Democrat legislators to favor incumbent Democrats and force out some Republicans.
The suit had not been filed Monday.
Republicans won a similar lawsuit two years ago which delayed spring primaries and filing for some offices. Elections were delayed while district lines were redrawn to the satisfaction of Superior Court Judge Knox Jenkins.
New election rules that are supposed to prevent a similar problem-including the establishment of a three-judge panel in Raleigh to hear future disputes-may also be challenged by the plaintiffs in the districting suit.
"We are looking at going ahead right now," Hammond said, "barring any delays by the U.S. Department of Justice or rulings by the state elections board."
State law now only allows one filing period, Hammond said. Two years ago when the elections were delayed, candidates had two chances to file for office.
"There will only be one filing period," Hammond said, "so we'll have to see what happens if there is a delay. If we do not receive pre-clearance, we can postpone filings with just a note on the door. If I have an hour's notice, we can be ready, either way."
Democrats across the state are gearing up to hold a Presidential caucus if the primaries are delayed.
While the Democratic caucus could allow the choice of a Democratic candidate for President, other offices would have to be chosen through conventional elections, unless the legislature votes to change the method.
Open seats this year in Bladen include positions with the Bladen County board of commissioner, school board, Soil and Water board, district court judge, U.S. Senate, N.C. House and Senate, and congressional seats.