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U.S. Justice Department Approves N.C. Legislative Maps

Posted March 31, 2004

— North Carolina's legislative districts have received final clearance from the federal government, two weeks after U.S. attorneys determined the maps didn't weaken minority voting strength.

U.S. Justice Department attorneys told the state late Tuesday that it wouldn't object to the boundaries, clearing the maps through the 2010 elections.

"The attorney general does not interpose any objections to the specified changes," Assistant Attorney General Alexander Acosta wrote to state attorneys.

The ruling also further affirms a July 20 primary date. The election already has been pushed back by two months because the federal government still were examining the maps approved by the Legislature in November.

Barring a late decision by the state courts, which are still examining the state House and Senate maps, the election season should formally begin April 26 with the start of candidate filing.

North Carolina primary voters will choose a GOP challenger to Gov. Mike Easley and party candidates for Congress and the General Assembly among others.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments March 18 over a procedural issue related to which lower court would examine maps. There's no date set for when the justices will make their decision.

While it is possible the maps eventually could be found to violate the state constitution, that ruling likely would come too late to delay the primary.

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