They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

A majority of the full U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the heavily litigated and controversial Texas voter ID law does have the effect of discriminating against minority voters, and ordered the state to devise a remedy to that problem before the November elections.

"We conclude that the district court did not clearly err in determining that SB 14 has a discriminatory effect on minorities’ voting rights in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act," the court majority wrote.

The unexpected ruling against the Republican-backed voter ID law by the conservative appeals court came as it faced a Supreme-Court-imposed deadline of Wednesday to rule in the case.

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A south Florida Islamic center was looking forward to joining the almost 100 churches and synagogues that serve as polling sites for Palm Beach County in November. 2016 was the first year that the Islamic Center of Boca Raton had been invited to process voters, and officials at the center started preparing soon after the county elections supervisor first reached out to them in April. They planned to serve desserts and snacks and set out chairs for older voters waiting in line.

Then, out of the blue, the center’s president received a call from a reporter in early July asking how he felt about Palm Beach County Election Supervisor Susan Bucher’s decision to relocate the polling site.

“I said, ‘who told you that?’” Bassem Alhalabi told TPM in a Tuesday phone interview. “He said, ‘That’s what I heard.’ So it was a rumor in the air which meant to me that the news leaked out before it was official.”

The mosque leader's account of being blindsided by that news doesn't match up with the county elections supervisor's public comments on the relocation.

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It's not every day you see Democratic lawmakers condemning one of their own, but that's what happened this week after the elections supervisor in Florida's largest county decided to relocate a polling site from an Islamic center over residents’ complaints.

Though at least 90 churches and five synagogues were selected to serve as polling locations in Palm Beach County this year, the Islamic Center of Boca Raton was removed as a site last week. The local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations quickly criticized the relocation of the polling site to a local library as Islamophobic, as did two Boca Raton-area U.S. representatives, Democrats Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch.

The decision from the county elections supervisor, Susan Bucher, appeared even more unusual given her progressive credentials. Bucher earned a reputation as “the relentless fly in the GOP soup” during her eight years in the Florida House of Representatives, where she spearheaded fights to expand healthcare access and subjected her Republican colleagues's legislative proposals to sharp-tongued questioning.

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A report released on Wednesday revealed a series of creepy incidents between Republican Tennessee state Rep. Jeremy Durham and at least 22 women working at or with the legislature, in which the lawmaker sexually harassed or made inappropriate physical contact with the women.

Over the course of about four years, Durham preyed on a 20-year-old campaign staffer, interns, young legislative employees and several lobbyists.

He harassed women over text message, peppering them with unsolicited requests to get drinks and attempting to get them alone. He made inappropriate and suggestive comments during conversations about legislative business. Durham often appeared drunk during the incidents and frequently offered the women drinks.

One woman described Durham's flirting as "aggressive." He made inappropriate comments about women's appearances, their clothes, and their breasts. The lawmaker also made unwanted physical contact with some of the women, such as lingering with a close hug and an out-of-the-blue kiss on the neck.

In compiling the report, the attorney general's office made more than 100 phone calls, conducted 78 interviews, and reviewed text messages. The report noted that many of the women did not initially report the incidents because they did not want to appear "untrustworthy."

Below are some of the creepiest, most inappropriate incidents detailed in the report:

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Having police come to your home wielding weapons and asking questions about your voter registration status just days before an election sends a clear signal.

That signal wasn't lost on residents of Hmong communities in rural northern California, who said police came to their doors doing just that earlier this month. They said authorities also set up a roadway checkpoint to target Hmong drivers, threatening to arrest and prosecute them if they voted illegally.

Following those allegations of flagrant voter intimidation in the lead-up to Tuesday's state primary, the sheriff of Siskiyou County, where just about 43,000 people reside, told TPM his deputies played only a “minor” role in a state-led gumshoe probe into potential voter registration fraud. Sheriff Jon Lopey (pictured right) said deputies accompanied investigators to provide security in an area he described as potentially dangerous and “inundated” with what he estimated to be 2,000 illegal marijuana grow sites.

But the accounts of voter intimidation were serious enough that investigators from the Secretary of State’s Office, joined by staffers from the state Attorney General's Office, were dispatched on June 7 to monitor polling places across Siskiyou County.

“What began as an investigation of alleged voter fraud quickly evolved into an investigation of potential voter intimidation,” a spokesman said in a statement emailed to TPM.

Ironically, the Secretary of State's Office was being forced to look into acts of alleged voter intimidation performed in service of its very own probe.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is living every Republican’s worst nightmare these days: being tied to a controversy surrounding Donald Trump.

For that, he has John Owens to thank.

In an interview with TPM on Friday, the morning after outlets in Texas published stories with the retired career government lawyer's allegations, Owens said he had been so busy with press inquiries that he barely had time to finish breakfast.

“I am praying it’s just the 24 hour news cycle,” Owens said.

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A European-based anti-refugee group is finding a new home in the United States, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League, and catching fire with neo-Nazis and anti-government extremists.

The group–Soldiers of Odin–launched in Finland in 2015 and is named for a Norse god. Members of the group can often be seen in Finland patrolling the streets, wearing black jackets inscribed with a Viking and the Finnish flag and attempting to be vigilante "eyes and ears for the police," according to the ADL report.

The group represents a backlash to the rising number of refugees being resettled throughout Europe. In Finland, the number of refugees quickly ballooned from just little more than 3,000 in 2014 to 32,000 in 2015. The group has already spread across Europe from France to the U.K.

Now, the Soldiers of Odin are making moves in the U.S.

According to the ADL's report, rumblings from the Soldiers of Odin USA began in February of this year. Unlike Europe, which is facing a massive refugee crisis, the number of refugees coming into the U.S. is still relatively small. And so far, Soldiers of Odin USA has mostly a web presence. Still, ADL estimates that there are at least 4,000 individuals linked to the U.S. group.

In March, the Soldiers of Odin chapter in Denver, Colorado held its first patrol. And the ADL reported that in Montana–where there is not even a refugee resettlement office–the backlash against refugees was so strong that "more than 200 people tried to crowd into a [Flathead County] March 10 county commissioners meeting to express anti-refugee and anti-Muslim sentiments." In March, a Soldiers of Odin group emerged to encourage individuals in the Flathead Valley to protest any Muslim refugee resettlement in the area.

"Europe waited until AFTER she was flooded with refugees to protest in large numbers. We will not make the same mistake in Montana," the group's Facebook page read. "We all know that many of the Muslim refugees are causing massive amounts of crime, in particular sexual assault and rape of women and children. Soldiers of Odin peacefully patrols the streets to protect citizens."

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A federal court Tuesday struck down a provision of Ohio law that scaled back the early voting period in the state.

Judge Michael Watson, of the U.S District Court of the Southerm District of Ohio, ruled that the provision was a violation of the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act.

The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by voting rights attorney Marc Elias -- who is also the general counsel of the Hillary Clinton campaign -- on behalf of The Ohio Organizing Collaborative and individual voters in the state. It targeted a number of changes to Ohio voting laws, including the elimination of "Golden Week," a period when residents could register to vote and vote on the same day.

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