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

A former top staffer for a Republican legislator in Wisconsin suggested this week that GOP legislators were motivated to pass the state’s tough photo voter ID law because they believed it would help them at the ballot box, an account he expanded on in a Wednesday interview with TPM.

Todd Allbaugh, who served as chief of staff for state Sen. Dale Schultz (R) until the legislator retired in 2015, first made the claims in a Tuesday Facebook post that caught the attention of national voting rights experts.

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Voting rights groups filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday challenging what they described as a massive voter purge in Ohio. The lawsuit accuses the state of violating the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 -- also known as the "Motor Voter" law -- by taking tens of thousand of voters off the registration rolls because they did not participate in past elections.

"As a result of these violations, numerous Ohioans have been disenfranchised in recent elections, and many more face the threat of disenfranchisement in the 2016 Presidential Election and future elections," the complaint said.

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Reports of Arizona voters waiting for as long as fives hours to cast their ballots is bringing intense scrutiny on local elections officials as well as renewed criticism of the 2013 Supreme Court decision that allowed them to make major changes to polling plans without the approval of the federal government.

Most of the coverage since Tuesday's voting problems has focused on two things: First, Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populated region, reduced polling places from 200 to 60 in an effort to save money; and second, that’s the kind of change in the voting regimen that federal officials would have blocked until the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder.

But the picture is more complicated, voting rights experts and former Justice Department officials tell TPM.

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The former mayor of Bernards Township, New Jersey had a simple goal: build an Islamic Center where he and his fellow Muslim residents could worship.

What Mohammed Ali Chaudry got instead was a protracted four-year battle with the local planning board, who ultimately rejected his plan for the mosque.

Now Chaudry and his group, the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge (ISBR), are suing Bernards Township and its planning board for allegedly threatening their right to worship under the guise of land use regulations.

The suit, filed Thursday in federal court in New Jersey, charges that the community masked a xenophobic fear of bringing an Islamic house of worship into their neighborhood with concerns about mundane land use issues, such as parking and stormwater management. Planning board members were ultimately swayed by this tide of community opposition, the suit alleges.

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The full Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has decided to hear a challenge to Texas' voter ID law, after a three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled that the law violated the Voting Rights Act.

The state of Texas had appealed the earlier decision to be reviewed "en banc"—meaning by the entire 15-judge court—in August, and the Fifth Circuit announced that it accepted it in an order released Wednesday.

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Authorities in Oregon have publicly revealed new information about the shooting of Oregon wildlife refuge standoff leader LaVoy Finicum at the hands of law enforcement that could have a major impact on the way the public views the entire confrontation that led to his death.

In announcing Tuesday that the fatal shooting of Finicum was justified, authorities also divulged that additional shots were fired in the incident, including two shots that were allegedly concealed by one or more FBI agents who are now under investigation.

The new information didn't lead authorities to conclude the shootings were unjustified but it does help paint a clearer picture of what happened in the tense final moments before Finicum died.

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A federal judge declined Tuesday a request by voting rights groups to block temporarily a new voting restriction in three states. The groups are suing a federal official over his unilateral move to approve a proof-of-citizenship requirement to register to vote in Kansas, Georgia and Alabama.

In his order refusing to issue a temporary restraining order on the measure, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in Washington suggested that he was skeptical the challengers would succeed when a full case was heard on the merits. The order comes after the Department of Justice had signaled it was siding with the voting rights groups, at least when it came to temporarily blocking the requirement.

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In an unusual move Monday, the Department of Justice signaled it would be siding with the voting rights groups and against a federal official over whether proof of citizenship should be required to register to vote in three states.

The groups are suing Brian Newby, the recently appointed executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), over his decision to change the federal voting registration forms in Kansas, Georgia and Alabama to require proof of citizenship. The challengers say adding the requirement to the form violates the National Voter Registration Act and additionally that Newby failed to go through the typical protocols of making the change, which the commission opposed in the past.

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