KOMU TV aired a story about the voter ID issue during its early evening broadcast today. It betrayed the usual bias and confusion we have come to expect from our friends in the media. The Internet version of the broadcast is a little less warped. After a very brief introduction vaguely mentioning debate about government issued IDs for voters and a constitutional amendment, the reporter went right into an interview with… a Democrat opponent. It is good journalism – and respectful – first to ask the proponents about their goals before letting the bashing begin. If there was a balancing interview with Rep. Rowden, a supporter quoted in the Internet article, it was not aired. The broadcast created a negative impression of the legislation.
The reporter cited the figure of 200,000 Missourians to be disenfranchised by the amendment. This is the number bandied about by the opposition, an incorrect and inflated figure we have discussed earlier. Should the reporter not have inquired of supporters if they thought that figure was accurate? But even if that was the only figure the reporter had time to unearth, he should have made clear that it is widely touted by opponents and given proponents a chance to respond. Even a cub reporter should be aware of the data wars in which warring sides produce their own version of the data.
The usual opposition to voter ID focuses on the paucity of reported instances of the lesser issue of “voter impersonation fraud,” without mentioning the more important ones. These include qualification to vote in a particular precinct and the problems with absentee voting. But the KOMU story just talked about voter fraud generally without shedding any light on the ID issue. Need we mention that KOMU-TV is produced by the highly ranked University of Missouri School of Journalism?
Finally, let us take this opportunity to mention a few items not related to the KOMU story. Much, probably most, voter fraud is hard to detect because the money and the interest in investigating and prosecuting possible fraud are lacking. A grant from the North Carolina legislature permitted the state’s Board of Elections to research fraud in the 2012 elections. The Board found many thousands of fraudulent votes and even more likely ones. Up to 35,000 of these were instances of double voting, which the current voter ID proposals would make much more difficult.
Petitions are now being gathered throughout the state in favor of early voting. The people collecting signatures are being paid $10/hour. Some group is spending a substantial sum to promote this close cousin to absentee voting, which would surely invite even more fraud. Many Americans favor granting the voting privilege to prisoners and even to illegal residents. Voter fraud, the privilege of voting, the integrity of elections, all this is about true government by and of the people.