RALEIGH -

A federal judge has ruled North Carolina's election in November can be held under a new voting law approved by Republican lawmakers.

The law is considered one of the toughest in the nation.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder on Friday denied a motion seeking to hold the November vote under old rules. A coalition of groups, including the League of Women Voters and the NAACP, filed suit over more than two dozen changes approved by the GOP-controlled state legislature in 2013.

The groups say the changes are designed to suppress turnout at the polls among minorities, the elderly and college students - blocs considered more likely to vote for Democrats.

Schroeder also denied a state motion seeking to have the case dismissed, setting the stage for the trial.