I write letters. To the public editor, regarding Michael Cooper’s he said/she said article today on Republican voter suppression:
Michael Cooper’s article on new state voting laws (filed in the “politics” sub-section of the US section of the website, and IIRC on the front page of my subscription edition of the TImes) is a pretty stunning example of really bad “he said, she said” journalism. Consider the fifth paragraph:
Republicans, who have passed almost all of the new election laws, say they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, and question why photo identification should be routinely required at airports but not at polling sites. Democrats counter that the new laws are a solution in search of a problem, since voter fraud is rare. They worry that the laws will discourage, or even block, eligible voters — especially poor voters, young voters and African-American voters, who tend to vote for Democrats.
And also consider the lede:
Since Republicans won control of many statehouses last November, more than a dozen states have passed laws requiring voters to show photo identification at polls, cutting back early voting periods or imposing new restrictions on voter registration drives.
There isn’t a question of opinion or ideology here. These are questions of fact. Is it true that voter fraud can be prevented by requiring photo IDs at the time of voting, reducing the length of time balloting is open or making it harder for people to register? Is there any evidence, at all, that what the Republicans are saying to justify suppressing turnout is actually true? The rest of the article goes on to point out that the effect, the intended effect, of these measures is to suppress voter turnout among groups that tend to vote for Democrats. How can Michael Cooper, or his editors, write this up as “GOP says fraud” while “Dems say there is no fraud” and then leave it there?
The one actual quotation from someone who favors suppressing Democratic votes concedes there is no fraud taking place that is within 4 orders of magnitude of the planned suppression:
“The left always says that people who are in favor of this claim there is massive fraud,” said Mr. von Spakovsky, of the Heritage Foundation. “No, I don’t say that. I don’t think anybody else says that there is massive fraud in American elections. But there are enough proven cases in the past, throughout our history and recently, that show that you’ve got to take basic steps to prevent people from taking advantage of an election if they want to. Particularly close elections.”
In the first place, the suppression effort IS massive. According to the article, it is meant to reduce turnout in the high hundreds of thousands to millions. If there is no massive fraud, then why does von Spakovsky support a massive effort to prevent citizens from exercising their right to franchise. Moreover, where is Michael Cooper here? Where are the questions: “What history? What recent events? How many instances of fraud, and of what magnitude? Can you document even a dozen cases of fraud caused by early voting, registration drives, or the absence of ID?”
The republicans are engaging in blatant attempts to suppress Democratic voters. This is newsworthy! It needs to be reported accurately, using actual facts, instead of presenting obviously disprovable lies as possibly valid.