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Cynthia Tucker explains how the Republican Party is driving away an important constituency, in her column, “Latino Voters Feel Unwelcome In Today’s Republican Party:”

The Republican Party has a demographic dilemma. Its largest dependable constituency comprises older white people, a group who vote reliably but who are unlikely to be around in large numbers two decades from now. 

You’d think that would prompt Republicans to start courting younger voting blocs with enthusiasm. But one of the fastest-growing blocs — a group gaining electoral influence — happens to be Latinos, a demographic toward whom those older whites have shown significant hostility. Thus, the dilemma.

Republicans’ response to this conundrum has been to take the low road: pandering to the prejudices of its white voters while trying to block ballot access for groups they have alienated with that approach, including Latinos. That’s why, over the last several years, GOP-dominated state legislatures around the country have passed harsh voter ID laws that disproportionately affect voters who tend to support Democrats.

Belatedly, though, the Justice Department is coming to the rescue, attempting to protect the rights of Americans who would likely be harmed by voter suppression tactics. The Civil Rights Division announced last week that it would block implementation of an onerous voter ID law put in place by the GOP-dominated Texas Legislature last year. In December, the Justice Department announced that it would block a similar law in South Carolina.

Thomas Perez, head of the Civil Rights Division, noted that the Texas law would disproportionately affect Latino voters, who are less likely to have a driver’s license or similar state-issued ID than white voters. (The battle isn’t over, since Texas is already seeking approval for the law in federal court.)

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