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Justice Department to sue North Carolina over voting law

The Justice Department will sue North Carolina today over the state’s new voting law, according to a person briefed on the department’s plans, the latest move by the Obama administration to counter a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that officials have said threatens the voting rights of minorities.

The suit, to be announced at a Washington, D.C., news conference, follows the department’s decision last month to sue Texas over that state’s new voter-ID measure. And it comes after a recent warning from Attorney General Eric Holder that the administration “will not hesitate to take appropriately aggressive action against any jurisdiction that attempts to hinder access to the franchise.”

Under the new law, North Carolina residents are required to show a photo identification card at polling places. The law was signed by the state’s Republican governor last month, and civil right groups moved quickly to challenge it. They said the law’s requirements would make it harder to vote and racial minorities would be disproportionately affected because they are less likely to have the forms of ID required by the law. In their suit, the Advancement Project and the North Carolina NAACP also argued that voter fraud is not a significant problem in the state.

Gov. Pat McCrory said the law would protect the integrity of the election process. He noted that voters wouldn’t be required to present a photo ID until the 2016 elections and insisted that the law was necessary to ensure that “no one’s vote is disenfranchised by a fraudulent ballot.”

Justice will challenge four provisions of North Carolina’s voting law, according to the person briefed on the plans. They include the strict voter-ID requirements. The suit will also challenge the elimination of the first seven days of early voting, the elimination of same-day voter registration during the early-voting period and the prohibition on counting provisional ballots cast by voters in their home county but outside their home voting precinct.

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