Wednesday, October 03, 2012

NYT Further Revises Position on Voter Fraud; Now Acknowledges Court Decisions Have Mostly Favored Challenges to ID Laws (or "Victory, Part 2")

I noted yesterday some big progress from the New York Times on voter fraud language: the story online during the day yesterday about the Pennsylvania court decision said that "repeated efforts to demonstrate the existence of in-person voter fraud have shown there to be very little of it" -- which represented a significant change from reporter Ethan Bronner's previous mushy language on the topic.

Now, in the version of Bronner's story in Wednesday's print edition, there's another significant change on language. Today's front pager (which keeps that good language from the online version yesterday) takes the Pennsylvania decision and expands it to a broader theme, with the headline "Voter ID Rules Fail Court Tests Across Country." The story:
The result, that Pennsylvanians will not have to present a state-approved ID to vote in November, was the latest and most significant in a series of legal victories for those opposed to laws that they charge would limit access to polls in this presidential election.
The story continues with more details on that theme.

Why is this reporting of facts such a big deal? Because it is a rather different description from what the NYT previously said regarding the court decisions.

Bronner's article from a few weeks ago that touched off this all had said:
In the last few weeks, nearly a dozen decisions in federal and state courts on early voting, provisional ballots and voter identification requirements have driven the rules in conflicting directions, some favoring Republicans demanding that voters show more identification to guard against fraud and others backing Democrats who want to make voting as easy as possible.
Courts have taken a mixed view of the two sides’ claims. Voter ID laws have been both upheld as fair and struck down as discriminatory. In Pennsylvania, a state judge upheld the voter ID law, and the State Supreme Court will hear appeal arguments on Thursday.
Elsewhere recently, Democrats have won more than they have lost, but appeals are forthcoming.
At the time, I mistakenly said that this was "somewhat true." But not really. That passage was critiqued by Andrew Cohen, writing after the public editor piece appeared. Said Cohen:
I may be missing something but I can recall only a single substantive ruling "in the last few weeks" that has gone the way of the Republicans -- the Pennsylvania ruling now before that state's supreme court. By contrast, during the week of the Republican National Convention alone, I counted eight federal judges, including several Republican appointees, who voted down restrictive Republican election measures (including Texas' patently discriminatory redistricting plan). The score that week was 8-0. If there has been a Republican comeback in court since then on voting rights cases, I'm not aware of it.
The Times got it wrong then, but today's front pager reverses the position and gets it right on what the court decisions have been. And the story gets it right on there being "very little" voter fraud. Two big victories.



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