Georgia: Newspaper Reverses Position on Controversial, Unconstitutional Voter ID Law
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Contributed by John Gideon, Information Manager, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA
November 27, 2005
Originally published at The BradBlog. Reposted by permission of the author.
Just four weeks ago the Athens Banner-Herald
in Georgia editorialized
in favor of the repressive new Georgia Voter ID law. This law had, just 3 days prior to the editorial, been found
by a federal judge to be an example of a "Jim Crow-era Poll Tax" and
thus the law was suspended. Critics have charged that the requirement
for Photo ID at the polls will disenfranchise millions of mostly
Democratic-leaning minorities, elderly, poor and urban-dwellers who
don't own driver's licenses.
But things have changed since the Banner-Herald's
original Op/Ed. One of the Georgia bill's sponsors, Rep. Sue Burmeister
(R-Augusta), got caught with her sheet down when she made statements to
the U.S. Department of Justice who had been tasked with determining the
legality of the new law under the Federal Voting Rights Act. Her
statements were released along with a story revealing
that 4 of the 5 career staff members in the DoJ who were advising on the matter had recommended against
giving approval to Georgia's new law. That advice was then overruled by
the Bush-appointed Attorney General and the law was given DoJ approval
just prior to be ruled as unconstitutional by two Federal courts.
In her statements, Burmeister is said to have told DoJ
officials looking into the law that blacks in her district only vote
when they are paid to do so. Those remarks are contained in the 51-page
report from the DoJ's analysis recommending against approval of
Georgia's law. Burmeister reportedly told officials that "when blacks
in her precinct are not paid to vote, they do not go to the polls."
Perhaps it is not so strange then that on November 22, after the release of the statements from Burmeister, the Athens Banner-Herald has admitted
that perhaps there are changes that need to be made to Georgia's voter
ID law. Perhaps it is not right, the paper now admits, to force all
voters to have a state-issued voter ID card that costs the voter
between $20 and $35. Perhaps it is not right to force a voter who
cannot afford to pay for the card to sign a "Pauper's Affidavit" as the
original law required.
So today, in a remarkable reversal, the Athens Banner-Herald's
Executive Editor, Jason Winders, editorialized in a scathing article
You can do better than that, Sue.
you don't expect a state representative to say blacks only vote if they
are paid to do so. You also don't expect one to say fewer minority
voters means less fraud. You especially don't expect one to say both.
as you know, that's how Rep. Sue Burmeister defended the state's voter
ID law in front of Justice Department officials recently.
little stunt landed her not only on the front page of this state's
largest newspaper, but on front pages across the country as well.
So what's an Augusta Republican to do?
she opts to spin damage control with FEMA-like incompetence and shift
the blame: "While I do believe that voter fraud is rampant in our
state, I in no way believe that African-Americans in my district or
around the state only vote when they are paid to do so. If the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution's misrepresentation has offended anyone, I
apologize. However, I do not believe that these statements are accurate
and they are in no way a reflection of my beliefs on this issue."
Blaming the media?
Come on now, Sue. That's so 1992.
tells me how sharp you are, so I know you can do better. Let's see,
you've already blamed blacks for voter fraud. Maybe you could blame
Hispanics for your poor choice of words. According to our early look at
the state GOP playbook for 2006, undocumented Hispanics are the new
It almost seems that the Athens Banner-Herald is playing a little catch-up as they realize that their original stance was not politically or humanely correct. Good for them.
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