WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - Lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department and an array of civic groups told a federal judge in North Carolina that a sweeping overhaul to the state's voting laws will cause irreparable harm if left in place for the November elections.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder heard final arguments Thursday following a week of testimony about the potential impact of the changes. Those challenging the Republican-backed changes claim they are designed to suppress turnout at the polls among minorities, the elderly and college students.

North Carolina's new voting law is considered one of the toughest in the nation and has more than two dozen provisions, including requiring voters to present photo ID and trimming the early voting period by a week. Supporters claim the changes will prevent voter fraud.

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