- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - The Latest on a legal fight over challenges to voter registration in North Carolina (all times local):

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6:05 p.m.

President Barack Obama is citing voter challenges at the heart of an NAACP lawsuit as he urges people at a North Carolina rally to vote.

While campaigning for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Chapel Hill, Obama mentioned one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that several counties removed voters in a way that disproportionately targeted blacks.

In Chapel Hill, Obama told the crowd about a 100-year-old black woman named Grace Bell Hardison of Beaufort County who had her registration formally challenged, but she rebuffed the effort and preserved her right to vote.

Obama said her story shows why everyone needs to vote.

He added: “If you don’t vote, then you’ve done the work of those who would suppress your vote without them having to lift a finger. Come on!”

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3:05 p.m.

A judge will rule later after adjourning a hearing on NAACP claims that several North Carolina counties unfairly purged their voter rolls.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs ended an emergency hearing Wednesday afternoon without ruling from the bench. She didn’t say when she may rule but noted during the hearing that the approach of Election Day means there’s not much time to act.

She said state law that allows one voter to challenge another’s registration within the same county seems outdated.

State data shows that nearly 6,700 challenged voters have been removed statewide from the rolls in eight counties over the past two years. Most were in Cumberland County.

The NAACP claims in a lawsuit that several counties removed voters in a way that disproportionately targeted blacks.

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3:00 p.m.

A lawyer says a North Carolina county was reluctant to remove thousands of voters from its rolls but felt obligated by law.

An emergency hearing was held Wednesday on NAACP allegations that several counties removed voters in a way that disproportionately targeted blacks.

State data shows that Cumberland removed more challenged voters than any other in the past two years, or about 5,600. Statewide, nearly 6,700 have been removed.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs said she was “horrified” by the number of Cumberland County removals.

Cumberland County’s attorney Rick Moorefield said the local elections board felt they had to follow state law.

He said: “The Cumberland County Board of Elections did not like this process.”

North Carolina law allows a voter to challenge another person’s registration within the county, setting up hearings before local elections officials.

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11:25 a.m.

A federal judge who’s presiding over a lawsuit on voter challenges in North Carolina says the state’s process for taking voters off the rolls seems like something from a bygone era.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs was holding an emergency hearing Wednesday on NAACP arguments that several local election boards have improperly purged voter rolls in a process that disproportionately targets blacks.

The NAACP says Beaufort, Cumberland and Moore counties removed thousands of voters from the rolls based on undelivered mailings by third-party activists.

When mail sent to an address is returned as undeliverable, the law says county boards can accept that as evidence that the voter no longer lives there.

Hearing how the process works, Biggs remarked: “This sounds like something that was put together in 1901.” She described the process as “insane.”

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10:30 a.m.

The Justice Department says several North Carolina counties apparently violated federal procedures for challenging the registration of numerous voters.

North Carolina’s chapter of the NAACP argued at an emergency hearing Wednesday that several local election boards have improperly purged voter rolls in a process that disproportionately targets blacks.

Their lawsuit alleges that Beaufort, Cumberland and Moore counties removed thousands of voters from the rolls based on undelivered mailings by third-party activists.

The Justice Department noted in a court filing late Tuesday that counties need more evidence than a returned piece of mail, and that federal law bars systematic removals within 90 days of the election.

The Justice Department also says people can’t be removed from voter rolls for moving within the same county. The NAACP alleges some voters are being purged for that reason.

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3:30 a.m.

North Carolina’s chapter of the NAACP will be in federal court as it tries to stop local election boards from purging voter rolls through a process that the group says disproportionately targets blacks.

The emergency hearing on the lawsuit will be Wednesday in Winston-Salem.

Voters are being removed because of challenges filed by individuals, which the NAACP says is illegal under federal law less than 90 days before an election. However, state officials say the process is legal under state law.

Early voting has already begun in North Carolina, a critical swing state that the NAACP has taken to court previously over issues such as voter identification.

The group’s lawsuit zeroes in on Cumberland, Moore and Beaufort counties, where individuals have challenged thousands of voters’ names.

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