ELECTION 2020-NORTH CAROLINA-BALLOTS
Judge weighing North Carolina absentee ballot procedures
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — A federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments over whether North Carolina is providing voters sufficient opportunity to fix absentee ballots that arrive without full information on who witnessed them. U.S. District Judge William Osteen was holding a hearing on Wednesday afternoon concerning a trio of lawsuits filed over how the state handles absentee ballots. Late last month, the State Board of Elections agreed to allow voters to fix incomplete witness information by sending in an affidavit rather than starting a new ballot from scratch. But that change was temporarily halted by a different federal judge, who sent two cases brought by GOP leaders to Osteen.
BLACK RAIL LAWSUIT
Elusive eastern black rail threatened by rising sea levels
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the Eastern black rail a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. According to the agency, the bird nicknamed the “feathered mouse” is threatened by sea level rise and the increasing frequency and intensity of storms as well as habitat destruction. Populations have declined by more than 75% over the last 10 to 20 years. The “threatened” designation falls short of what some environmentalists were seeking. The Center for Biological Diversity, which first proposed protections for the bird 10 years ago, had hoped it would be listed as “endangered,” which would bring more protection for the remaining population.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
Cooper tested negative for COVID-19 last month, office says
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said the governor has never tested positive for the coronavirus. Cooper most recently got tested in the middle of September after a family member had a fever. Cooper’s office says the tests for Cooper and his family were negative and the governor will continue to publicly confirm future test results. The news comes as Cooper sharpens his criticism of President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus both before and after he got COVID-19. Cooper’s Republican gubernatorial opponent, Dan Forest, said he tested negative for the virus last week.
Vandals strike lighthouse on North Carolina’s Outer Banks
OCRACOKE, N.C. (AP) — Park rangers with the Cape Hatteras National Seashore say they are investigating vandalism to the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina. The Virginian Pilot reports that rangers discovered damage to the Ocracoke Lighthouse on Sunday. A wooden ventilation slat was missing from the door. A wire screen on the door had also been detached. Rangers said they discovered more damage the next day. It included several damaged windows in the keeper’s quarters, the lighthouse and in outbuildings. The lighthouse on North Carolina’s Outer Banks was completed in 1823. And it is on the National Register of Historic Places. Ocracoke is an island that is reachable only by plane or boat. It is also a popular tourist destination.
BC-NC-VIRUS OUTBREAK-BEER FEST
Health official says beer fest attendees should get tested
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Health officials in North Carolina are asking people who attended the Mecktoberfest celebration at the Olde Meckleburg Brewery in Charlotte to consider getting tested for COVID-19. The Charlotte Observer reported Wednesday that two coronavirus cases have been connected to the event. Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris told county commissioners Tuesday that the event featured “very few masks” and “very little social distancing.” She also said that thousands of people were there. The event was held Sept. 25 to 27. Video shows a packed beer garden with mostly maskless customers.
ELECTION 2020-SENATE-NORTH CAROLINA
Democrat’s personal scandal roils N. Carolina Senate race
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A race in North Carolina critical to control of the U.S. Senate has been thrown into turmoil over allegations of personal misconduct by Democrat Cal Cunningham, a married man who had an extramarital relationship this summer with a consultant. Previously undisclosed text messages obtained by The Associated Press and additional interviews show that the relationship extended beyond suggestive texts to an intimate encounter as recently as July. Cunningham’s personal indiscretion offers a fresh test of whether voters will punish candidates for their private, consensual activity, and the answer they deliver could determine which party wields power in the Senate. He is challenging Republican Sen. Thom Tillis.
Campaign: Staff tests negative after Tillis’ virus diagnosis
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis’ campaign says staff members in close proximity to him last week have tested negative for COVID-19 so far. Tillis announced his positive test last Friday and continues to be in self-isolation. Tillis has said what mild symptoms he experienced over the weekend had disappeared by Monday. A campaign spokesman said Tuesday no staff members are showing symptoms, but that the campaign’s Charlotte headquarters will remain closed the rest of the week. In-person campaign activities also are on hold. Tills appeared on a television show Tuesday morning and took questions by phone from constitutents about the virus.
ELECTION 2020-NORTH CAROLINA-VOTER REGISTRATION FORMS
Group sent thousands of incorrect voter registration forms
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina elections officials say 11,000 voter registration forms pre-filled with incorrect information were mistakenly sent to people in North Carolina by a group seeking to increase election participation. The North Carolina State Board of Elections released a statement saying that the company called Civitech mistakenly sent the voter registration forms that included incorrect name, address and birth date information. The company aims to increase voter participation and was not working with state or local governments. The company was reaching out to people sent the incorrect forms, which were intended for people who may be eligible to vote but weren’t currently registered.
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