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Dem. Mayoral Candidates To Debate Saturday; Cooper Vetoes GOP Bills On Elections, Judges

Several progressive and Democratic groups have organized the first candidate forum of Charlotte's upcoming mayoral race. The forum will feature all three of the Democratic candidates who've announced plans to run.

Those are state Sen. Joel Ford and Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles, who each are seeking to oust the incumbent, Mayor Jennifer Roberts. Ford has sought to cast himself as a unifying figure focused on economic prosperity and bringing down the city's crime rate. Lyles has focused her message on improving community-police relations and bettering the city's economic mobility and access to social services.

Roberts has refrained from heavy campaigning over recent months, focusing instead on fundraising on carrying out daily responsibilities. Saturday will be her first chance to directly engage with her opponents. 

The event is being held at Weeping Willow AME Zion Church on Milton Rd. from 12 to 2 p.m. Republican City Council Member Kenny Smith, who is also running for mayor, is not included in the event.

Gov. Cooper Vetoes GOP Bills On Elections, Judges

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed two Republican bills -- one that tries again to shift authority away from Cooper to administer elections and a second that would prevent him from filling upcoming appeals court vacancies.

The vetoes were received Friday by the General Assembly, where overrides appear likely. Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate and have been fighting Cooper on several fronts even before he took office.

The elections bill creates a combined elections and ethics panel of eight members split between Democrats and Republicans. The governor's party has previously held a majority of elections board seats. The other vetoed bill reduces the state Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12. Three seats would be eliminated as judges retire or resign.

Transgender Plaintiffs Drop Request For Appeals Court Review

Transgender residents of North Carolina have withdrawn their request for an appeals court to review their ongoing legal battle against the state.

The appeal had challenged the requirement that transgender people use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates in most public buildings. The motion filed Thursday notes that the provision was taken off the books under a compromise deal last month. 

However, lawyers from Lambda Legal and the ACLU are vowing to continue their legal fight against the law that replaced HB2. The new law prohibits local governments from enacting new antidiscrimination protections for the next three years. It also says state legislators, not local governments, are in charge of any future restroom policies.

Report: 500 Ineligible Voters Cast Ballots In North Carolina

North Carolina elections officials found 508 ineligible voters cast ballots in the 2016 general election -- but not enough to change the outcome of any race,according to an audit released Friday.

The State Board of Elections report says the vast majority are cases of active felons casting ballots. The number represents a small fraction of the 4.8 million ballots cast. The report didn't include any evidence of coordinated fraud, and many of the voters claimed to be confused about their eligibility.

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