Bill Gilkeson advises political organizations, nonprofits, and candidates on campaign finance and election law. He has represented candidates and voters in election protests. He has drawn and defended redistricting plans for legislators and local governments.
Recent clients include:
- Voters in Morrisville NC, successfully protesting failure to count their absentee votes. This protest resulting in a new rule allowing late-arriving absentee ballots in municipal elections.
- The City of High Point, redrawing City Council wards after the 2010 Census. A compromise plan Bill suggested resulted in a unanimous vote by the Council and approval under the Voting Rights Act by the U.S. Department of Justice.
- Legislative candidate Matthew Dixon, protesting irregularities in a primary Bladen County. Though the protest did not result in a new election, it did bring an investigation and public rebuke of local officials by members of the State Board of Elections.
- The Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families, Common Sense Matters, NC Citizens for Progress, and other non-candidate political groups and nonprofits. He advised all these groups on campaign finance law.
Bill joined Bailey & Dixon in 2011 as of counsel after retirement from 25 years on the legal staff of the General Assembly. At the legislature, he specialized in election law, campaign finance, and redistricting. His work included drafting legislation and advising legislators of both parties. After the 1990 and 2000 censuses, he participated in drawing districts for State House, State Senate, and congressional seats. He also worked on legislation drawing districts for local governmental boards. His work extended to preparing county precinct lines for inclusion in Census geography, preparing submissions for preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and providing evidence in landmark litigation such as Shaw v. Reno and Stephenson v. Bartlett.
After retirement, he also worked for the NC Legislative Black Caucus preparing and evaluating plans for the 2011 redistricting.
Beyond redistricting, Bill worked extensively in drafting and developing legislation about campaign finance and election administration. His work often involved adapting State law to federal court decisions and federal legislation.
Bill took an active role in the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). He served twice as an officer of NCSL’s Redistricting and Elections Committee, made several presentations at national NCSL meetings, and contributed to the authorship of NCSL’s publication Redistricting Law 2010. Before retiring in 2010, Bill received an NCSL Legislative Staff Achievement Award.
He has given several Continuing Legal Education presentations on election law, campaign finance, and redistricting. He took a lead role in Bailey & Dixon’s CLE seminar in 2013 on NC’s major new election law, House Bill 589. While still working for the General Assembly, he also worked on election day for the Wake County Board of Elections, serving as chief judge of his own precinct and later as a coordinator of several precincts.
A native of Chattanooga, Tenn., Bill received a B.A. in political science in 1969 from Southwestern at Memphis, since renamed Rhodes College. After more than a decade as a newspaper reporter and editor, he went to law school at UNC-Chapel Hill, receiving his J.D. and his admission to the bar in 1985.
- Rhodes College, B.A., 1969
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, J.D., 1985