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Election lawsuits heard

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Mark your calendars--again: A panel of three federal judges ruled last week that North Carolina's primary election will occur as scheduled May 6.

Several Republicans, including two former North Carolina lawmakers, have sued the State Board of Elections alleging the current legislative district boundaries are unconstitutional. They sought a preliminary injunction to delay the primary until lawmakers or the courts could redraw the lines.

The judges denied the injunction. However, the suit itself challenging the boundaries may proceed.

The NAACP recently intervened in the case; it contends that the plaintiffs are trying to recarve the map to segregate black voters into their own districts, in effect diluting the political power of African Americans.

Another election lawsuit is slated for Wake County Court over North Carolina's ballot access laws. The Green and Libertarian parties sued the State Board of Elections, maintaining that ballot access requirements are onerous.

A party must collect roughly 70,000 signatures of voters registered in North Carolina (although they gather closer to 100,000 to account for signatures that may be invalid). That number is equivalent to 2 percent of the voter turnout in the last gubernatorial election. To stay on the ballot, at least one candidates must receive 10 percent of the vote.

The Green Party has never had a candidate on the North Carolina ballot; the Libertarians have succeeded several times, most recently in 2004.

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