Montana Politics The Media

Where’s the Outrage from the Lee Papers About Actual Efforts to Reduce Turnout?

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A few weeks ago, the Lee Newspapers in Montana were beside themselves because Governor Schweitzer made a series of jokes in a speech in Philadelphia. The Missoulian was especially horrified, spewing Republican talking points faster than Dick Morris in a 30 second interview. All the Lee papers ran a story by Jennifer McKee, suggesting there was truth behind the allegations.

Weeks later, with gallons of ink spilled, no one has come forward with any credible proof that anything untoward happened in the 2006 election. Republicans, as they seem always to do, succeeded in manipulating the media to cover a non-issue, in an effort divert attention from the fact that their candidates have no message of change.

This week, however, Republicans engaged in another one of their favorite strategies: scaring people away from the polls. What kind of people? Young voters, Native Americans, senior citizens, soldiers activated for service in the Middle East, and 86 year-old World War II heroes:

But worst of all is the legendary Frank St. Pierre, 86, also of Anaconda, who helped save thousands of allied troops at Dunkirk in World War II and has 10 Medals of Honor. St. Pierre, too, moved from one end of town to the other, and the Republicans tried to void his and his wife’s registrations. I have a copy of the signed affidavits from the Republicans, declaring that Frank and Marilyn St. Pierre’s voter registrations must be purged. An utter disgrace.

This effort is a disgrace, a transparently obvious attempt to intimidate voters, overwhelm county election officials, and purge ‘undesirable’ voters from the rolls. It’s an anti-democratic act of a party that has no respect for voters or the electoral process. So, given the demonstrated editorial concern about the electoral process because of a few jokes, one imagines that Lee Newspapers chose to make this issue a critical part of the editorial pages on the day with the highest-readership, right?

Not so much.

What does the Missoulian tackle today? Neglecting pets. Bob Barker would be thrilled.

What about the Gazette? A half-hearted defense of the bailout.

The Independent Record? God knows. They don’t even seem to be able to update their opinion page half of the time.

The Ravalli Republic? Their last posted editorial is the standard ‘register to vote’ pablum.

The Montana Standard did publish a piece, by Lt. Governor John Bohlinger, who wrote:

But I am appalled at the leadership of my political party. I urge party elders to take action and promptly withdraw this outrageous effort to challenge the eligibility of legitimate voters, and to call for the removal any Republican Party employees responsible for this. This kind of activity has no place in a democracy. Finally, I would urge the voters of Montana whose registrations have been improperly challenged not to be discouraged by this unfortunate effort.

This is an easy editorial to write. Kudos to the Flathead Beacon for nailing it:

Baloney.

Many of these voters may have moved from one part of their county to another, and now they will be required to verify their address – adding one extra hassle to anyone leading a busy life who intends to vote. It’s a tenuous argument for Republicans to make that Schweitzer’s comments that he tried to "turn some dials" to help Jon Tester get elected justifies imposing impediments to voting on thousands of voters in traditionally Democratic areas and Native American counties.

Efforts to intimidate voters should be condemned in the strongest terms. Efforts to overwhelm county election officials, especially when the Republican Party argued against same-day registration, should be condemned.

The hard-hitting editorial about animals can wait.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

5 Comments

  • Is this surprising? Remember that this is what the Republicans did in Florida! Which is now rather ironic, given that NEW registered voters in Florida are Democrats over Repubicans TWO TO ONE these days.

  • *There are some interesting points in time in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well

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