Another must-read from Michael Wines of the NYT:
While Donald J. Trump repeatedly claims that the election is “rigged”against him, voting rights groups are increasingly battling something more concrete in this year’s ferocious wars over access to the ballot box: Despite a string of court victories against restrictive voting laws passed by Republican legislatures, even when voting rights groups win in court, they are at risk of losing on the ground.
In an election year when turnout could be crucial, a host of factors — foot-dragging by states, confusion among voters, the inability of judges to completely roll back bias — are blunting the effect of court rulings against the laws.
Last month in Texas, a federal court that invalidated that state’s voter ID law in July ordered recalcitrant state officials to change their public education campaign on new ID rules. The reason: Critics complained that the campaign muddied the central point of the court’s ruling, that voters without a state-approved ID could simply sign an affidavit to cast a ballot. In Kansas, the chief elections official, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, agreed last month to add nearly 20,000 properly registered voters to the state’s rolls only after being threatened with contempt of court.
And this month in North Carolina, plaintiffs complained to a judge that early-voting plans in five populous counties, including Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County, embraced some of the same discriminatory practices that federal courts had outlawed this summer. That came after two senior Republican Party officials advised local elections boards in emails to choose polling places and voting hours that inconvenience minorities and other Democratic-leaning constituencies….
But the crux of the Republicans’ argument is less whimsical: Tough election laws, they argue, are needed to keep Democrats from stealing elections. “What I find is that leaders of the other party are against efforts to crack down on voter fraud,” Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, a Republican, said in March. Numerous studies and surveys of voting show the opposite: Election fraud is rare, and the in-person fraud that the laws could prevent is virtually absent.