1st Place Honors
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Bridget Grumet

Austin (Texas) American-Statesman

In order for democracy to work, voters must feel safe casting their ballots and election workers must feel safe counting them. That is not always the case in Texas, however, where lawmakers have criminalized voter errors and Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, has tried to indict election officials in Democratic strongholds over minor incidents with partisan pollwatchers. With groundbreaking reporting and unsparing prose, Grumet called out these abuses and stood up for those caught in the crossfire.

In her work with the Statesman’s Editorial Board, Grumet scrutinized GOP lawmakers’ efforts to make it harder for some Texans to vote. After moving into her role as Metro columnist, Grumet earned the trust of two local election officials in Austin and Houston who had been targeted for criminal prosecution by the Texas Attorney General. Both officials, who had been cleared by grand juries, agreed to let Grumet publicly share their unsettling accounts for the first time. Grumet’s exclusive, in-depth reports provided startling new insights into the ways Paxton was using his office for plainly partisan goals.

Grumet deftly connected the dots for readers on the growing threats faced in Texas to the integrity of elections, from the state's attempts to prosecute Democratic election officials to the deeply flawed voter roll purge and, most recently, the drive to prevent voters from using the federal courts to fight the attacks on their voting rights. With this  tenacious body of work, Grumet reminded Texans what is at stake as they choose lawmakers and a state attorney general in 2022.

Carmage Walls judges said both of Grumet's entries (both this one on elections and a second entry about homelessness) were really, really strong. Her columns on election integrity were so important, they said, and so well researched. 

Austin American-Statesman Executive Editor Manny García, who edits Grumet's work, said: "Bridget writes with an authority only found in a deeply reported column. She brings relevance, gravitas and clarity to her work and our community is the better for it. Bridget's reporting exposes meanness, sham and calls attention to abuses of power that the public needs to know about. We are beyond honored to see Bridget recognized with the Carmage Walls Commentary Prize. She is so deserving of this important recognition."

Read her entry: