Editorial Roundup: Alabama
Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:
The Decatur Daily on voter restriction laws:
While the Republican-controlled Legislature in Georgia has made drastic changes to its voter laws that it make it harder to vote, the Alabama Legislature has done relatively little.
The only major change so far Alabama Republicans have proposed — although not the only one — is to ban curbside voting. This is a needless restriction that prevents actions that could make it easier for the handicapped to vote, but it doesn’t really change the status quo.
Alabama Republicans, of course, have no real desire to change the status quo. They have a supermajority of the Legislature and all statewide elected offices. Alabama hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Georgia, however, is different. In Georgia, Donald Trump narrowly lost the 2020 presidential race to Joe Biden, and then the two Republican senators lost their runoff elections to their Democratic opponents, flipping control of the U.S. Senate to the Democrats.
It is impossible to imagine any of the voting changes the Georgia Legislature has enacted being passed had Republicans not lost those races. Changing election laws in Georgia would be as much of a non-issue as it is here in Alabama.
Many of the changes Georgia Republicans have enacted simply come across as sour grapes. Georgia’s secretary of state did his job, without giving in to pressure from Trump and Trump’s supporters. He said he found no voting irregularities that would change the election outcome, and subsequent investigations have backed him up.
So, the Georgia Legislature has stripped him of some of his powers.
“On Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) of Georgia signed the most far-reaching effort yet into law — a sweeping voting measure that undercuts the power of the secretary of state and local election boards,” according to the Washington Post account. “The new law removes the secretary of state from serving as chair of the State Board of Elections, giving the Legislature the authority to appoint a majority of the members, and authorizes the state board to suspend local election officials.”
In addition, the new voting law further restricts absentee voting and early voting.
One provision of the law even makes it a crime for anyone to give food or water to people waiting in line to vote. This provision has received a lot of attention because of its perceived vindictiveness. The supposed justification for the ban on giving waiting voters food and water is to further enforce a ban on campaigning at polling sites. But if that is the real concern, then why not simply ban volunteers handing out food and water from wearing campaign slogans on their clothing or engaging in other electioneering?
Better still, why not do something about the long lines, which will only get longer with more restrictions on absentee and early voting?
The answer is, this is not really about the integrity of the vote at all; it’s about making voting more difficult because Republicans mistakenly believe that is the best way they can win.
Republicans are re-fighting the last election instead of looking forward to the next. A more sensible strategy, for example, might be to target some of the Hispanic voters in areas where Trump made some inroads in the last election.
It’s simply a defeatist attitude for Republicans to assume they can’t do well among the poor and minorities, and when it drives incumbent Republicans to enact laws that disproportionately make it harder for the poor and minorities to vote, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Dothan Eagle on road rage:
Who could imagine they’d ever find themselves longing for a day when frustration with traffic was expressed with the honk of a horn or the occasional rude hand gesture?
Over the weekend, on Dothan’s heavily traveled Ross Clark Circle, a motorist pulled off the roadway to swap places with a passenger when another vehicle pulled alongside and fired several shots into the car, striking one of the occupants. The assaulted vehicle fled, and pulled into the parking lot of Ridgecrest Baptist Church, where the victim called police. Investigators are working to track down the vehicle from which the shots were fired.
The perpetrator should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Road rage is a relatively new term to describe a chronic occurrence. Under the best of circumstances, driving in traffic is stressful — frustrations escalate and tempers flare, and sometimes anger leads to irresponsible behavior. Add weapons into the mix, and the potential for tragedy intensifies.
A heavily traveled roadway through a densely developed area is the last place someone should be discharging a firearm, particularly considering the recent mass shootings in the U.S.
However, the weekend’s road rage incident should be a cautionary tale for those traveling anywhere in the U.S. Fight road rage with road Zen — drive carefully, and keep your frustration in check. If another driver behaves aggressively toward you, do not engage or retaliate. If possible, put distance between yourself and the aggressor. Turn off, if necessary. It’s better to make your journey a bit longer than have it end in tragedy.
The Cullman Times on the pandemic and how life has changed in over a year:
It’s been a year since we last published our Profile section, in which we look back at the progress being made in our community and the heroes who touch the lives of the people who live here. And what a year it’s been.
At this time last year, we were just learning new phrases like “social distancing” and “community spread” and “flattening the curve.” We knew more about what we didn’t know than what we did know about this new virus. Most of all, we didn’t know how it would affect our lives, our families, our communities and our economy. Now we know.
The positive news is that Cullman County’s economy and businesses have done pretty good. There are exceptions to this, of course, but overall the local economy has fared well.
When it comes to individuals, the news is not as good. Food banks and food pantries report an increase in demand as people find themselves - some for the first time - without enough to feed their families.
People lost loved ones and could not gather together with others sharing in their loss.
Parents had to navigate work, parenting and changed school schedules and rules.
Grandparents in nursing homes were unable to hug their loved ones or, sometimes, even visit with them in person.
It has been a tough year. But the bright lights of hope have been the heroes within our community - sung and unsung:
The medical personnel, wading into the unknown waters of a disease we’re still learning about to provide care and comfort;
The nursing home and assisted living staff, who not only strove to protect the most vulnerable population, but also to boost morale as much as possible;
The teachers, crafting lesson plans to reach students through the internet and creating and maintaining safe classrooms for in-person learning;
Every person who crafted face masks for friends, neighbors and complete strangers;
Funeral home directors who worked with grieving families to find ways to honor and remember the deceased when funerals were not allowed or were limited;
Business owners who found ways to keep operating and retain employees;
The clergy who ministered to their flocks in a time of stress, sadness, and sometimes separation, and bolstered the faith of their church families;
Every person who has looked around and asked themselves, “how can I help my neighbor?” and then found a way to do so.
You are all heroes.