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Sessions and the courts have different opinions on voter ID laws

Federal courts have ruled that voter ID laws in several states discriminate against racial minorities. Jeff Sessions has a different view.

"It doesn't appear to me" that voter ID laws discriminate, the Republican Alabama senator said in his confirmation hearing for attorney general Tuesday.

"I have publicly said I think voter ID laws, properly drafted, are OK," he said.

The last word "will be decided by Congress and the courts," he added.

While states pass their own voting rules, the Department of Justice historically has stepped in to ensure they comply with federal law. Notably, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 required several Southern states with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before making changes to the voting process.

But the Supreme Court struck down significant portions of the act in 2013. That emboldened ongoing efforts by states to require voters to show various forms of ID at the polls.

At the time, Sessions called that ruling "good news…for the South" and said that “if you go to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, people aren’t being denied the vote because of the color of their skin."

The new voter ID laws have been highly controversial.

Over the summer, a federal appeals court struck down North Carolina's law for targeting African Americans "with almost surgical precision."

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has filed a lawsuit over Alabama's law.

And in Wisconsin , local elections officials have said they believe ID laws contributed to depressed African American turnout for the November presidential election, contributing to Hillary Clinton's loss there to Donald Trump.

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