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Opinion

Bessent: Courts right to knock down Texas' voter ID law

The courts gave Texas Republicans a richly deserved smackdown on voting rights this week.

A three-judge federal appeals court panel in Washington blocked implementation of the state's voter ID law Thursday, ruling that officials failed to show it wouldn’t violate the voting rights of blacks and Hispanics.

Earlier this week a separate three-judge panel, also in D.C., threw out the state’s redistricting plans, ruling that the maps drawn by the Republican-led legislature undermined the political clout of minorities, who accounted for most of the state’s population growth.

Texas Republicans may have been trying to stick it to Democrats by making it tougher for their voters to cast ballots and, in the time-honored fashion of both parties, by carving out districts that favor Republicans. But they are clearly willing to sacrifice the voting rights of minorities in search of an undeserved political advantage.

Texas has a history of violating minority voting rights. That’s why the state is required under the Voting Rights Act to have any voting changes cleared by the U.S. Justice Department before they’re implemented. It seems little has changed. The department blocked the ID law in March, Texas officials sued, lost, and now promise to appeal.

Insisting they just want to combat voter fraud, Texas officials said the photo ID requirement is needed to clear illegal immigrants, ineligible felons and dead people off the rolls.

But Republicans in eight states that have recently imposed such laws have produced precious little evidence of fraud to justify the requirement, which can be a hardship for poor and minority people who predominate among those without acceptable IDs.

Given blacks’ long and often bloody battle to win the right to vote, this new attempt to obstruct that right — this time for blacks and Hispanics — is callous and unworthy of the world’s premier democracy.

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