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In seemingly contradictory voting-rights actions just a month before November's elections, the Supreme Court has allowed new Republican-inspired restrictions to remain in force in North Carolina and Ohio while blocking Wisconsin's voter identification law.

But there's a thread of consistency: In each case, the court appears to be seeking a short-term outcome that is the least disruptive for the voting process.

Another test of the court's outlook on voter ID laws could come from Texas, where the state is promising to appeal a ruling that struck down its strict law as unconstitutional racial discrimination.

None of the orders issued by the high court in recent days is a final ruling on the constitutionality of the laws. The orders are all about timing — whether the laws can be used in this year's elections — while the justices defer consideration of their validity.

In some ways, these disputes over the mechanics of voting are like others that crop up frequently just before elections as part of last-minute struggles by partisans to influence who can vote.

Republican lawmakers say the measures are needed to reduce voter fraud. Democrats contend they are thinly veiled attempts to keep eligible voters, many of them minorities supportive of Democrats, away from the polls.

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