Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org
Just 4 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 against Burmeister...
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