The nation's courts have been stepping up and knocking down voter-suppression efforts by Republican officials. Shamefully, the Republican Party's national standard-bearer has been sowing doubt about the U.S. election system without a shred of evidence.
First the good news. In recent weeks, courts have struck down laws in Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin and North Dakota designed to restrict access to voting and impose needlessly complex voting requirements. These efforts by Republican governors and legislators were the predictable result of the U.S. Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act, which had successfully protected voters from discriminatory laws for half a century. Chief Justice John Roberts ruled from his bubble that the laws were no longer necessary because racism had been eradicated.
The law in North Carolina, home also of the deplorable law targeting transgender rights, was particularly egregious. The law banned early voting and registering to vote before reaching the age of 18, and featured a variety of restrictions on what constitutes a valid ID. In slapping it down, the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. called the law exactly what it was: racist.
In its decision, the judges declared that its provisions "target African-Americans with almost surgical precision" to prevent them from casting ballots. The desire of Republican legislators to entrench themselves in office, the court continued, led them to target voters "who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party. Even if done for partisan ends, that constituted racial discrimination."
The laws in Texas, Wisconsin and North Dakota were overturned on similar grounds. In Texas, federal courts ruled that more than 600,000 people would have been unable to procure identification claimed to be valid and a disproportionate number of those voters would be African-American or Hispanic. A district judge is attempting to repair the law before the November 8 election.
In Virginia, where a discriminatory voting law is being challenged, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson can't bring himself to do the right thing. He has stated that the law is a reasonable response to public anxiety about voter fraud but has also acknowledged that there is no evidence that such fraud has occurred in the state or nation. That anxiety, to whatever level it even exists, has been cynically created by Republican officials for political reasons.
Which brings us back to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who in hedging his bets in case he loses in November, has been claiming the electoral system is "rigged" in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Typical of the Great Prevaricator, he offers no evidence of this and doesn't explain why a Clinton supporter would supposedly be able to vote 10 times or, for that matter, why a Trump backer would not be able to vote 10 times.
Mr. Trump undoubtedly looks with envy at his Russian pal Vladimir Putin, who periodically wins transparently rigged elections with 75 percent or more of the vote. Mr. Putin also tosses troublesome political foes into prison, something we might expect of a President Trump.
The Republican Party, having given up appealing to minority voters, has reduced itself to reviving racist Jim Crow laws. Mr. Trump, having insulted African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims and just about every voting group beyond angry white men, is following the same strategy by warning without basis of potential election fraud. The courts are doing a generally good job of protecting the integrity of our nation's voting system, which is a pillar of our democracy. Mr. Trump, who lacks integrity among other character traits valuable in a president, risks weakening public confidence in that system by attacking it without any reason for doing so beyond self-interest.