Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, November 29, 2013

Of course it's not Voter Suppression... really?

On Sunday, September 15, the Arizona Republic editorial board mindlessly pontificated that manipulation of voting procedures, which clearly made the difference for two Democratic lawmakers who lost in Colorado recall races was NOT voter suppression.
Real voter suppression is a grave concern. But so are spurious claims of suppression that only contribute to cynicism about the integrity of the vote. [...]
Voter suppression is an intentional effort on the part of partisans to unfairly inhibit the ability of the other side’s voters to cast ballots. It is not an unavoidable result created by circumstances. Or simply some change in election law that one side or the other dislikes. [...]
It is one thing for a losing candidate like Giron to go on national TV to whine about voter suppression. Losers use a lot of excuses, including conspiracy theories, to paint over their electoral inadequacies.
It is quite another for national figures who should know better to pop off on matters they know nothing about, but which can have a dramatic effect on trust in the integrity of elections. 
I would suggest that it's quite another for the editorial board of a "prominent" local newspaper to "pop off" on matters they know not nearly as much as they purport to know, like Voter Suppression.

Case in point, NBC News recently reported on a Brennan Center for Justice survey of 2013 Voting Laws. From NBC News:
Working ballot by ballot, county by county, the Republican Party is attempting to alter voting laws in the biggest and most important swing states in the country in hopes of carving out a sweeping electoral advantage for years to come. [...]
In the 10 months since President Obama created a bipartisan panel to address voting difficulties, 90 restrictive voting bills have been introduced in 33 states. So far, nine have become law, according to a recent comprehensive roundup by the Brennan Center for Justice – but others are moving quickly through statehouses.
“We are continuing to see laws that appear to be aimed at making it more difficult to vote—for no good reason,” Daniel Tokaji, an election law expert at Ohio State University, said in an interview. [...]
In next year’s midterm elections, control of the Senate could well hinge on minority turnout in a few key states.
After the GOP’s 2012 loss, some prominent Republicans urged their party to woo, not alienate, the growing minority electorate.
GOP lawmakers in many states did not get the memo. That includes Arizona, where state Sen. Michele Reagan, who now wants to become Arizona's chief elections officer, championed the Voter Suppression Bill, HB2305.

From the Brennan Center report:
Election 2012 was marred by problems for voters nationwide... One year later, an encouraging number of states have taken steps to provide voters more access to the ballot box. At least 234 bills were introduced in 45 states to increase access. Unfortunately, others have restricted access — 33 states introduced 90 restrictive bills — and the Supreme Court has made it easier for some of them to do so by striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. While 10 states passed 13 bills in 2013 to expand voting opportunities, eight states passed nine restrictive bills.
We will continue to monitor voting changes in the lead up to the 2014 legislative session. State legislators will continue to introduce laws to make it harder for Americans to vote.  
How many election law scholars and experts did the Arizona Republic consult when writing its September 15 editorial? None were cited. That editorial clearly reflects the voice of its chief ALEC apologist Doug MacEachern, more than anyone else.

The bottom line is that the editorial board which declared national figures "should know better [than] to pop off on matters they know nothing about..." appears to have popped off on matters it knows nothing about.

The integrity of Arizona elections is a matter that bears more serious consideration than just the "popping off" of a brazenly plutocratic editorialist. But that daily newspaper, like most other newspapers has been in serious decline recently. That decline shows up in the extremely poor editorial decisions it has made in the last couple of months. This is but one of them.

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