Saturday, March 8, 2008

From the column: Disenfranchised voters

For all the talk about the disenfranchisement of voters in Florida and Michigan, I haven't heard anyone yet take up the cause of newsroom employees of the Dallas Morning News.

Yes, DMN reporters have been disenfranchised -- by their employer. DMN bigwigs disseminated this e-mail to newsroom employees on Feb. 29, just four days before the Texas primary and caucus.

The ruling from on high: Voting, OK; caucusing, not so much.

Texas has a complicated nominating process that is a hybrid of a primary and a caucus. Two-thirds of the state's delegates are awarded based on the result of the primary; the remaining third are apportioned based on results from the caucuses.

Therefore, if newsroom employees are allowed to vote in their primaries but not in their caucuses, their votes are diluted to two-thirds what they could be -- and what the votes of other Texans, including non-newsroom employees of the DMN, can be.

Regular readers of this space know how I feel about advocacy activity on the part of reporters. (If not, click here.)

But I believe that the DMN employees should challenge this misguided policy in federal court. There is a fine line between protecting the integrity of the institution of the Dallas Morning News and trampling the constitutional rights of its employees ... and the News has clearly crossed it.