A few weeks ago I called attention to a local news station in Omaha, Nebraska that had done an uncharacteristically bold piece on the link between ALEC and the Voter ID law being introduced into the state legislature...
I ventured back to their website yesterday, curious to see if there were any new developments, and
OMG! This station is engaged in actual journalism! Details across the orange puddle.
It seems the local election commissioner is reducing the number of polling stations in forthcoming elections "to save money". The KMTV reporter exposed this voter suppression ruse, illustrating how poor people without transportation would have to walk 3 hr round trip to vote. In a follow-up report, the reporter then camped out in the commissioner's office, waiting for an opportunity to show the comissioner the consequences of the polling place reductions. Antoher report features local protests over the polling place reduction. The reports are engaging and hard-hitting.
The station has continued the ALEC and Voter ID stories too. One story of note reveals the financial perks that state legislators get from ALEC membership.
These days it takes courage for a local news station to take the "people's right to know" seriously. KMTV is definitely swimming upstream in a heartland Republican state. The stakes are high. Recall that Nebraska divides its electoral votes in presidential elections among districts. The district that includes Omaha has a substantial minority (Black and Hispanic) composition. That district gave Obama an electoral vote in 2008.
The voter supression efforts by the Republicans will require much local vigilance to counter effectively. With the 2010 tidal wave of Republican state-level victories, Republicans took control of local voting arrangements in many key states. We can anticipate many Ken Blackwells cloned on a vast scale, attempting to replicate Ohio 2004 wherever they are working. Democratic precincts will receive too few voting machines, and the machines in Democratic precincts will break down, and voters will have to stand in line for hours to vote, and the voter ID laws will be especially strictly enforced against minorities, and the voting results will be routed through Karl Rove's servers berore being posted, and the states' Republican Katherine Harrises will certify the outcomes, and the original data will be lost before anyone can blink. The Repubs will try to sneak many of the voting arrangements under the radar of the citizens. Sleeping media will not take notice, or will notice but not deem the "cost-cutting" measures newsworthy.
Obama leads narrowly in polls on a statewide basis. The margin is uncomfortably close; some of these state contests could come down to 100 votes. The voter suppression efforts could seem petty and inconsequential, but they could turn the tables in close races, especially after Romney spends a billion dollars on tv ads to drive up Obama negatives among progressives as well as independents. Polls won't matter if the votes aren't counted.
I am not a Nebraskan, nowhere even close, but this journalism courage make me sit up and take notice. Are there any other local news stations in the nation reporting on the real election issues? Link their reports in comments here, or better yet, diary them with some background. We should try to reward good journalism with our attention.