North Carolina's new legislative map has been given final clearance by the federal government, two weeks after U.S. attorneys determined the redistricting (search) didn't weaken minority voting strength.

The ruling affirms a July 20 primary date. The election had been pushed back by two months while the federal government examined the maps approved by the Legislature in November.

Assistant Attorney General Alexander Acosta (search) told state attorneys on Tuesday that the department wouldn't object to the boundaries, clearing the maps through the 2010 elections.

Barring a late decision by state courts, which are still examining the state House and Senate maps, the election season should formally begin April 26 with the start of candidate filing.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments March 18 on a procedural issue related to which lower court would examine the maps. No date was set for the justices' decision.

Primary voters will choose a GOP challenger to Gov. Mike Easley (search) and party candidates for Congress and the General Assembly among others.