No special elections for redrawn districts in North Carolina, judges say

North Carolina’s Electoral College representatives sign the Certificates of Vote after affirming their 2016 votes. Federal judges on Monday rejected a request by North Carolina voters who sued over General Assembly district boundaries to hold special elections next March in new districts once lines are redrawn to eliminate illegal racial gerrymandering. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Drake.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Federal judges on Monday rejected a request by North Carolina voters who sued over General Assembly district boundaries to hold special elections next March in new districts once lines are redrawn to eliminate illegal racial gerrymandering.

The unanimous order by the three-judge panel means the next legislative elections won’t occur until November 2018. But the judges did tell Republican lawmakers that they’ll have to approve new House and Senate boundaries by this September — at least two months earlier than GOP leaders sought.

The three judges told lawmakers to draw the new maps by Sept. 1 but wrote that they would extend the deadline to Sept. 15 if lawmakers make enough progress on new boundaries in the next few weeks.

The panel ruled in August 2016 that 28 state House and Senate districts were illegally drawn based on racial considerations. After Republicans took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices upheld the lower court decision to throw out those boundaries. Democrats hope the new boundaries could help them erode the GOP’s veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers.

Although the three judges said they would explain their decision against a special election in a forthcoming opinion, lawyers for GOP legislative leaders have said having one would be too complicated and would overlap with the November 2018 election schedule.

In oral arguments last week in Greensboro federal court, two of the judges expressed concerns that North Carolina legislative leaders had taken few steps to draw new election maps.

The judges reaffirmed those worries in Monday’s order, writing that it appears “the General Assembly does not appreciate the need to move promptly to cure the unconstitutional racial gerrymanders” in plans first approved in 2011.

Setting the Sept. 1 deadline, the judges wrote, gives lawmakers time to hold public hearings while moving the process along.

“Constitutionally adequate districts should be enacted as quickly as possible to protect the rights of North Carolina citizens and to minimize any chilling effect on political participation attributable” to the lack of a lawful plan, the order said.

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10 Best Things To Do In & Around Emerald Isle, North Carolina

1. The Point

The beach effect is a real thing. Those warm breezes, the lulling sound of the crashing waves, the call of the gulls – it draws you in like mermaid song. The Point manages to accentuates all these treasures, and is just far enough out into the Atlantic to make you want to stay there forever.

With seashells galore, light sand, and minimal crowds, it’s really hard to compare this beach to anything else in the world. If you can manage, just one morning sunrise on these soft shores will soothe your soul. The Point is a one of a kind beach and an absolute must on your travels to the Emerald Isle.

Address: Emerald Isle, NC

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2. Carolina Kitesurfing

After The Point casts its spell on you, why not ride those ocean waves as you kitesurf under the summer sun? If you want to take it a little slower, then hop on a paddleboard and glide through those radiant rays.

Either way, Carolina Kitesurfing has something for everyone and you’re going to be glad you chose to dance atop those waves for one splendid afternoon in the Emerald sun.

Address: 142 Fairview Dr, Emerald Isle, NC 28594

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3. Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier

How does a nearly four-pound sea mullet sound to you? That’s the state record for this fun-filled fishing pier. With bait and tackle, drinks and food, beach gear, and restrooms, you’ll have everything you need to make a fresh catch during one of your afternoons here.

Bring that on home to your rented bungalow and savor the taste of truly lasting memories. Newly expanded, you’re going to be able to stretch out on Bogue Inlet for a nice, long afternoon, and enjoy the time well-spent with friends and family.

Address: 100 Bogue Inlet Dr, Emerald Isle, NC 28594

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4. Emerald Isle Adventures

Keep the adventures coming! At Emerald Isle Adventures you’ll find lovely fishing charters to sail you away into the waters of restful retreats or fishing fandangos. Family-owned and operated, it’ll be nice to support a local company that warmly welcomes you and your next big catch back to shore.

Address: 6800 Emerald Dr, Emerald Isle, NC 28594

Operating Hours: Daily, from 6 am – 8 pm

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5. Salty Pirate Water Park of Emerald Isle

This is a cute little outdoor water park promising all kinds of summer fun. Another family-owned spot, you’ll find water slides, wading pools, an arcade, snack bars, and so much more. The kids will love their time here, and those pictures are sure to last a lifetime.

Address: 8915 Reed Dr, Emerald Isle, NC 28594

Hours of Operation: Daily, from 10 am – 5 pm, from Memorial Day to Labor Day

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6. Emerald Isle Woods Park

This is a lovely 41-acre (5.6 hectare) park offering an endless array of outdoor fun. Sometimes it’s nice to take slow, savoring sips of local color; Emerald Isle Woods Park is just the place to do so. Enjoy relaxing strolls down wooded paths – listening to birdsong prepared just for you – and arrive at a welcoming pier with beautiful views of the sound. If you have it, launch a kayak and sail toward that setting sun, into moonlight delight.

Address: 9404 Coast Guard Rd, Emerald Isle, NC 28594

Hours of Operation: Daily, from 6 am – 9 pm

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7. Cedar Street Park

After Emerald Isle Woods seeps into your soul, you’re likely to want a repeat of that retreat. Also offering kayak and windsurfing access, this is a wonderful place to pack up a picnic basket and spend an afternoon (if you can peel yourself away from the beach long enough).

Actually, autumn might prove to be a spectacular time to drink in these soundside parks. No matter when you visit, these are the special earthly treasures that allow you put life on pause and take an inventory of all your many blessings.

Address: 7800 Cedar Street, Emerald Isle, NC

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8. Wellness Massage & Yoga

Since we’re on the path to peace and tranquility, a trip to the local spa is an absolute must. If you’re here with friends and family, maybe the yoga enthusiast in the crowd can take a class while the massage-seeker can relax in his or her own way.

The real treat here is that these angelic masseuses travel! They’ll pack up their fresh linens and fluffy massage tables and come to you. Imagine how that morning’s sunrise is going to feel!

Address: 8752 Reed Dr #8, Emerald Isle, NC 28594

Hours of Operation: Mon – Thu, from 8:30 am – 8 pm; Fri, from 8:30 am – 5 pm; Sat, from 8:30 am – 4 pm

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9. North Carolina Maritime Museum (about 30 min drive)

Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from your Emerald envy, head on out to the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort for some rich sea life color. Coastal living ‚Äčand the bustle of the seafood industry can be explored in this worthwhile afternoon drive.

Remnants from Blackbeard’s wrecked ship rest in peace here, too, including cannons, grenades, belt buckles, and beads. As a lovely step through maritime time, you’re sure to enjoy everything North Carolina Maritime Museum has to offer.

Address: 315 Front St, Beaufort, NC 28516

Hours of Operation: Mon – Fri, from 9 am – 5 pm; Sat, from 10 am – 5 pm; Sun, from 1 pm – 5 pm

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10. North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores (less than 30 min drive)

While the North Carolina Maritime Museum allows you to see life through exhibitions, the North Carolina Aquarium lets you get in on all the seaside action with touch pools, submarine tanks, and local sea otters! When’s the last time you befriended a cute little otter?

You can explore shipwrecks here, too, without even getting wet. A rare white sea turtle is just eager to make your acquaintance. A fun trip for all, definitely try to find time in one of your sun-filled afternoons to pack everyone up and head on over to this delightful aquarium.

Address: 1 Roosevelt Blvd, Pine Knoll Shores, NC 28512

Hours of Operation: Daily, from 9 am – 5 pm

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Emerald enchantment

The Emerald Isle is as enchanting as it sounds. With a bevy of beachside activity and soft sunlight dancing off the sound, you’re going to be glad you packed up and headed on over. This is one of those fantastic islands where it truly is come one, come all. Do you need a solo getaway? Then, off you go! Are you excited to pack the family up and splash into the summer sun? Then, there you have it. The Emerald Isle really does have it all.

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