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Voting Rights Act

Glossary

The 1965 federal law, modified five times since, that bans racial discrimination in state voting laws and legislative district mapmaking. It also created a system of special oversight for elections and redistricting in states and counties with histories of discrimination, which the Supreme Court effectively stopped in 2013. See preclearance and Shelby County v. Holder.

Read more about the Voting Rights Act.

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Congress
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Republican Tom Graves (left) and Democrat Derek Kilmer lead the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, which demonstrated unanimous support for all of its proposal to the full House of Representatives.

Panel charged with fixing Congress is given another year to try

The House has rewarded its special "fix Congress committee" for its wholly bipartisan and relatively productive first year by extending its life for another year, giving the panel time to tackle some of the more contentious problems on its watch list.

With polarization, dysfunction and gridlock now Capitol Hill's three defining characteristics, the panel was created in January to set the stage for different behaviors to germinate — by proposing how the House could become a more efficient, transparent and up-to-date place for members to pass bills and conduct oversight, and for staffers to help them.

The idea is that it's essential for Congress to get back some of the capacity, stature and muscle ceded in recent decades to the president and the courts — and thereby recalibrate the balance of powers at the heart of a thriving federal republic.

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Residents of Texas may register to vote when they apply for or renew a driver's license in person, but not online. A lawsuit that had been intended to change that was thrown out by an appeals court.

Online voter registration ban in Texas survives in federal court

A federal appeals court has blocked a lower court ruling that had opened the door to online voter registration in Texas.

The decision is a setback for advocates of easing access to the ballot box. They contend the nation's second-most-populous (and increasingly purple) state is being improperly strict in its interpretation of a federal law requiring states to give residents an opportunity to register when they apply for or renew driver's licenses.

But the ruling is not necessarily the final word on easing voter registration in Texas.

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