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

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's legislative districts havereceived final clearance from the federal government, two weeksafter U.S. attorneys determined the maps didn't weaken minorityvoting strength.

U.S. Justice Department attorneys told the state late Tuesdaythat it wouldn't object to the boundaries, clearing the mapsthrough the 2010 elections.

"The attorney general does not interpose any objections to thespecified changes," Assistant Attorney General Alexander Acostawrote to state attorneys.

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

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

North Carolina primary voters will choose a GOP challenger toGov. Mike Easley and party candidates for Congress and the GeneralAssembly among others.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments March 18 over aprocedural 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 toviolate the state constitution, that ruling likely would come toolate to delay the primary.

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