Republican state legislators, especially in the south, constantly try to obstruct voting by blacks and Hispanics, who generally vote Democratic. On June 25, conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court aided this strategy by killing the historic 1965 Voting Rights Act's section that requires racist states to get federal approval before changing their election laws.
Now, thank heaven, Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Justice Department are fighting back, using a different part of the law to challenge GOP-backed changes in Texas and North Carolina. We hope this effort succeeds.
Much of the showdown involves voter ID laws, a crafty plan to prevent voting by blacks, Hispanics and other less-privileged Americans who are less likely to have photo driver licenses.
Various party insiders have openly admitted the scheme. Last year, Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai boasted at a GOP meeting that the state's new ID law "is gonna allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania -- done."
This month, Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Rob Gleason bragged in a TV interview that his state party "cut Obama by 5 percent" in the 2012 election, and "probably voter ID helped a bit in that."
In Wisconsin, Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling complained that Romney would have carried her state, if a new voter ID law hadn't been declared unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, national GOP strategist Scott Tranter said party workers "do everything we can to help our side. Sometimes we think that's voter ID, sometimes we think that's longer lines, whatever it may be."
Middle-class whites in two-car families think nothing about showing driver licenses when required -- but they don't realize that millions of black and Hispanic Americans lack both cars and licenses. Studies find that enormous numbers of minority members don't have picture cards. Trying to prevent these Americans from voting is ruthless, cold-hearted.
In West Virginia's Legislature, Republicans have won a larger share of seats. Undoubtedly, they will try again to force Mountain State voters to show photo ID at polls -- on make-believe grounds that this prevents voter fraud. In reality, the chance of someone voting under a fake name is infinitesimal, less than the risk of being struck by lightning.
Next time this proposal arises, we hope Democrats in the House or Senate kill it, or the governor vetoes it. West Virginia doesn't need a clever ploy to keep Democratic-minded voters away from election precincts.And we hope the Justice Department defeats the treacherous tactic in Texas and North Carolina.