The big winners were Taylor Batten, editorial page editor of The Charlotte Observer in the large circulation category and Keith Magill, executive editor of The Courier in Houma, La., in the 50,000 and less circulation category.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal and The Lakeland Ledger won second-place in the respective categories.
An honorable mention went to The Star for a series on voter ID. The judges wrote:
Bob Davis' wonderful writing shines. This well-planned series brought a local focus to a statewide and national issue, that of voter ID. Davis made excellent use of analogies and the historic record in a compelling presentation. Particularly striking in his entry was how well he struck a balance between repetition and variety across the multiple pieces. Repetition drove the point home, and variety kept it fresh.
Rep. [Kerry] Rich’s stated objective in toughening Alabama’s voter-ID law is to prevent voter fraud. There is no evidence to hint that Rich’s goal is racially motivated, and this page isn’t suggesting such.
However, based on the evidence from other states that have passed similar laws, unintended consequences will land hard in 2014. Many of the poorest eligible voters will find it difficult to acquire a valid picture ID. Despite the promise of a “free” ID, Alabamians in need will have to cough up money to purchase supporting documents — a birth certificate, for example — required by the state.
In Rich’s view, the price is worth it. For a rationale, he leaned on the clichéd saying, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
The fear is the prevention Rep. Rich measures in ounces will feel like a crushing weight on the poorest and most voiceless Alabamians seeking to vote.
Since 1990, less than a dozen Alabama residents have been convicted of voter fraud. The NCAA has sanctioned the athletic departments of the University of Alabama and Auburn University about as many times over that same period. Yet, the Alabama Legislature isn’t writing laws to prosecute corruption in the state’s athletic departments. It’s taking steps to crack down on voter fraud with a new law taking effect in 2014.