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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- Final arguments are expected at a hearing over whether extensive changes to North Carolina's voting laws will be put on hold until after the November election.

Lawyers are to appear Thursday before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder, who has been hearing evidence in the case this week.

The U.S. Justice Department and an array of civic groups are opposing Republican-backed measures they claim are designed to suppress turnout at the polls among minorities, the elderly and college students.

North Carolina's new law is considered one of the toughest and includes more than two dozen changes, including requiring voters to present a photo ID and trimming the early voting period by a week.

Similar voter ID requirements in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were struck down by judges earlier this year.

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