EDITORIAL: Motives don’t matter in Treadwell’s record on voting rights


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In an editorial dated June 27, (Journal managing editor) Andrew Jensen criticized the Alaska Democratic Party for a press release entitled “Treadwell praises Supreme Court attack on voting rights.”

As we have documented, the Division of Elections has eliminated early, in-person voting opportunities in 21 rural Alaska communities since 2010, when Treadwell took office. Treadwell took a leading role in the state’s litigation against the Voting Rights Act (VRA), including both an amicus brief filed in support of Shelby County Alabama’s attack on Section 5 and a separate anti-VRA lawsuit filed by the Parnell/Treadwell Administration.

On June 25, when the Supreme Court gutted Section 5 of the VRA, Mead Treadwell posted on his Facebook page a picture of himself giving a thumbs-up to the decision. He also told Peter Granitz of APRN that he was pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision. Treadwell’s record of opposition to Alaska Natives’ voting rights is consistent and troubling.

In criticizing these positions and actions of Mead Treadwell, the Alaska Democratic Party has never accused him of being a “bigot,” as your op-ed asserts. We do not know what personal feelings motivate Treadwell to use his only meaningful statutory responsibility (as overseer of the Division of Elections) to attack Alaska Natives’ voting rights.

We are not interested in his personal motivations, but rather the impact on Alaska. What matters is the integrity of our democratic process and protection of individuals’ right to vote.

The claim that we have accused Treadwell of bigotry is a crude resort to ad hominem attacks, and is beneath the journalistic quality that should be expected of the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

When it deliberated on reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 2006, Congress considered 15,000 pages of evidence of present-day discrimination against minorities whose rights the VRA is designed to protect. The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has documented extensive discrimination against Alaska Natives; sadly, such discrimination existed in 1975 when Alaska’s Congressional delegation succeeded in including Alaska under the VRA and continues to exist today. Both the Supreme Court and Mead Treadwell seem to have ignored all of this evidence.

In contrast, Alaska’s Congressional delegation has listened to their Alaska Native constituents. As the Anchorage Daily News has noted, Alaska’s representatives fought for protection of Alaska Natives in the 1975 VRA reauthorization, and for continued inclusion in VRA reauthorizations in 1982 and 2006.

The Supreme Court/Treadwell assault on Alaska Native voting rights is particularly tragic because it unravels a bipartisan legacy of the Alaska Congressional delegation.

The protections that our Congressional delegation put in place for Alaska Natives now are gone thanks to Treadwell’s jihad and the Supreme Court’s judicial activism. Alaska will suffer the consequences, regardless of Treadwell’s personal motivations for taking a policy position that harms our state.

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