Salon's Election Integrity Coverage Takes A Turn For The Better
but it couldn't have got much worse!
By Winter Patriot on 8/15/2006, 7:55pm PT  

Guest blogged by Winter Patriot

Art Levine's new piece at Salon raises their election integrity bar quite a bit --- not a difficult task considering where that bar has been lately.

Prior to the 2004 "election", Salon's coverage was generally quite good; since then it's been dismal, thanks mostly to some outrageous smear pieces from Farhad Manjoo. In fact, Salon's coverage has been so dreadful that the site has been referred to in some quarters as "Saloon", which of course rhymes with "buffoon", which gives me a good way to remember "Manjoo", whose name just wouldn't stick in my frozen brain any other way.

But let's not dwell on those sad times.

Levine's article, "Salon's shameful six", looks at six states --- Arizona, Indiana, California, Missouri, Ohio and Florida --- where vote suppression could cause serious problems in 2006.

If you're not a Salon subscriber, you'll have to watch a short ad to read the whole article. I did; it was well worth the time and effort. But just in case you don't believe me, we have a few short excerpts, below the fold.

Art Levine: Salon's shameful six

Eva Steele has a son in the military who is supposed to be fighting for freedom in Iraq, but sitting in a wheelchair in her room in a Mesa, Ariz., assisted-living facility, she wonders why it's so hard for her to realize a basic freedom back here in America: the right to vote.

Arriving in Arizona in January from Kansas City, weakened by four heart attacks and degenerative disk disease, Steele, 57, discovered that without a birth certificate she can't register to vote. Under a draconian new Arizona law that supposedly targets illegal immigrants, she needs proof of citizenship and a state-issued driver's license or photo I.D. to register. But her van and purse were stolen in the first few weeks after she moved to Mesa, and with her disability checks going to rent and medicine, she can't afford the $15 needed to get her birth certificate from Missouri. Her wheelchair makes it hard for her to navigate the bus routes or the bureaucratic maze required to argue with state bureaucrats. She's unable to overcome the hurdles thrown in her way --- and in the way of as many as 500,000 other Arizona residents --- by the state's Republican politicians.

"I think everybody should have the right to vote, no matter if you've got two nickels or you're a millionaire," Steele says. "I think it's a shame you have to jump through so many hoops to prove that you're the person who you say you are."

But Steele's plight has gotten relatively little notice from pundits and progressive activists confidently predicting a sweeping Democratic victory in November. Opinion polls show that a majority of the public wants a Democratic Congress, but whether potential voters --- black and Latino voters in particular --- will be able to make their voices heard on Election Day is not assured. Across the country, they will have to contend with Republican-sponsored schemes to limit voting. In a series of laws passed since the 2004 elections, Republican legislators and officials have come up with measures to suppress the turnout of traditional Democratic voting blocs. This fall the favored GOP techniques are new photo I.D. laws, the criminalizing of voter registration drives, and database purges that have disqualified up to 40 percent of newly registered voters from voting in such jurisdictions as Los Angeles County.

"The criminalizing of voter registration drives"? How low can they get?

Never mind. Saloon never would have mentioned "the criminalizing of voter registration drives". So we must be making progress.

There is rarely hard proof of the Republicans' real agenda. One of the few public declarations of their intent came in 2004, when then state Rep. John Pappageorge of Michigan, who's now running for a state Senate seat, was quoted by the Detroit Free Press: "If we do not suppress the Detroit [read: black] vote, we're going to have a tough time in this election cycle."

Yes, indeed. A very tough time. All over the country.

Let's have a quick look at a couple of states we don't hear about all that often:

ARIZONA
Thanks to a legacy that includes denying Native Americans the right to vote until 1948 and decades more of scheming to block minority voters (the state still has to submit its voting regulations to the Justice Department for approval), there's a good reason that voting reformers view the state's latest "voting integrity" weapon with skepticism. The sweeping, Republican-backed Proposition 200, passed by voters in 2004 and enacted last year, [...] makes Arizona the only state in the country to require proof of citizenship for voter registration.
...
[S]pokesmen for Arizona secretary of state Janice Brewer, a Republican, praise her for minimizing fraud while "single-handedly" working to increase voter registration. Privately, though, she may hold more disturbing views. A former Republican candidate for the state Legislature, Thom Von Hapsburg of Phoenix, told Salon that he was shocked at a fundraiser when Brewer told him she doesn't want "the wrong kind of people voting."

It seems to me I've heard that song before | It's from an old familiar score | Where is Sammy Kahn when we really need him?

INDIANA
Whether it's thousands of voters purged from county registration rolls this year without due process or new and arcane photo I.D. rules that can trip up even the most dedicated voter, state and county GOP election officials are seemingly seeking to discourage voter participation --- perhaps because three of the most competitive U.S. House races this year are in Indiana.

"I think this is all part of a nationwide effort of the Republican Party to suppress votes, because that's the only way for them to stay in power," says William Groth, an attorney filing a lawsuit challenging the voter I.D. law on behalf of the Indiana Democratic Party, a case now on appeal.

Want to know more about Indiana and Arizona? Want to know about California, Missouri, Florida and Ohio? Want live links instead of plain text? Click here. Watch the short ad. Read the whole article.

It gives me great pleasure to note that Salon appears to be back. I hope it'll stay a while this time.

Saloon was really getting to be a drag.