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Federal Court Hears NAACP Lawsuit Over Voter Cancellations; Plus, Possible Gas Shortage In NC

With mere days to go before the election, a federal judge in Winston-Salem is hearing arguments over the cancelations of up to 4,500 voter registrations in the eastern half of North Carolina.

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP filed a lawsuit this week alleging some of the cancelations targeted African-Americans, and that the three counties in eastern North Carolina purging their voter rolls are in violation of the National Voter Registration Act, which prohibits local boards of election from systematically cleaning out voter rolls within 90 days of a federal election.

The three counties removed thousands of voters from their rolls after third party activists concerned with voter fraud challenged them based on undeliverable mailings.

The U.S. Justice Department got involved in the dispute late Tuesday, when it issued a filing saying if the NAACP's allegations are true, the counties would be in clear violation of the National Voting Rights Act. The state, meanwhile, argues the process is legal under state law.

Carolinas Brace For Possible Gas Shortage Following Pipeline Explosion

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has signed an executive order waiving some requirements to allow trucks to begin delivering gasoline to the state following a weekend explosion at a gas pipeline in Alabama that shut down gasoline shipments to millions across the south.

While some gas shortages and price increases are expected, McCrory's office is urging citizens not to participate in panic buying, saying it would only make the situation worse.

The governor is also suspending non-essential travel for state employees, and is directing the Department of Environmental Quality to work with the Department of Agriculture to use different gasoline formulas to increase access to supplies from northern states.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, meanwhile, is reminding residents that the state's price gouging law remains in effect.

The deadly explosion sparked a geyser of fire, killing one worker and injuring five others. Executives with the Colonial Pipeline say as much as 168,000 gallons of gasoline could have burned, spilled, evaporated, or remained in the pipeline.

The company says its goal is to restart the pipeline as early as this weekend. North Carolina gets about 70 percent of its gasoline supply from the damaged pipeline.

Charlotte Water Urges Residents To Conserve Water As Drought Intensifies

Charlotte Water is asking customers to begin voluntarily conserving water as the region's drought spreads. The dry weather and above-average temperatures have prompted the Catawba-Wateree river basin to enter a stage 1 drought.

The region has not seen rain in 24 days. Charlotte  Water says customers should irrigate only between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays, if they must irrigate at all. The utility also requests that residents refrain from operating fountains or using outdoor water during the day.

The National Weather Service says rainfall at Charlotte-Douglas in October was .62 inches below normal, even with the extra rain brought by Hurricane Matthew.

GOP Office In Hillsborough Reopens Weeks After Firebombing Attack

A local North Carolina Republican Party office building that burned when a flammable device was thrown through a window has reopened in a new location.

An open house for the new Orange County GOP office was held Wednesday morning. The new location is a few hundred yards away from the location that investigators say was firebombed last month. No one was injured, and no arrests have been made in relation to the incident.

Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal