WINSTON-SALEM (AP) - The U.S. Justice Department is asking a federal judge in North Carolina to put sweeping changes to the state's voting laws on hold through the November election.
The Justice Department argues the Republican-backed measures are designed to suppress turnout at the polls among minorities, the elderly and college students. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder heard arguments Monday. He did not issue a ruling.
The changes championed by GOP lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory include requiring voters to present a photo ID and trimmed the early voting period by a week.
North Carolina's law is considered one of the toughest and includes more than two dozen changes. Thirty-four other states have passed laws requiring an ID to vote. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania's version were struck down by judges this year.
North Carolina's election overhaul law will come before a federal judge who will decide whether to delay part of the law's implementation. The hearing comes on the heels of a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice and state civil rights groups.
The law requires voters to present photo identification starting with the 2016 elections. Opponents say the law discriminates against minority voters and inhibits their ability to vote. Those who wrote the bill say it is fair, maintains the same number of voting hours, and also makes sure those who don't have a valid ID to vote can get one in advance of the 2016 election.
The lawsuit is a key part of the "Moral Monday" movement led by the NAACP. The group is working to mobilize voters and plans to hold a rally after the hearing Monday in Winston-Salem before a federal judge.
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