AJC Leaves Out Key Fact in Voter ID Story: Georgia Gives Them Out Free

Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Bill Rankin penned a July 10 article noting a judge's refusal to slap a temporary restraining order on Georgia's voter ID law. Rankin labeled the measure "controversial." Yet the AJC staffer failed to relay that Georgia state law provides photo voter ID cards free of charge.

From the Georgia Secretary of State's Web site (PDF file):

If you do not have one of these acceptable forms of photo identification, the State of Georgia offers a FREE Voter Identification Card. An identification card can be issued at any county registrar's office or Department of Driver Services office FREE of charge.

Rankin did note that people who show up at the polling places without photo ID can still cast a provisional ballot, but that those ballots don't end up being counted as cast unless the voter comes back within two days with proper identification. He then cited both a criticism and a defense of that provision of the law:

In the February primaries, [Georgia Democratic Party attorney Emmet] Bondurant noted, 409 provisional ballots were cast but only 155 voters returned with acceptable identification. That meant that 254 people who wanted to vote were not allowed to because of the law, Bondurant said.

But Mark Cohen, a lawyer for the state, told Campbell those voters might not have been unduly hindered by the law. The voters might have just decided that, because Barrack Obama overwhelmingly won the Democratic primary and Mike Huckabee handily won the Republican primary, they may not have wanted to go to the trouble to cast votes in elections where the outcome was no longer in question. Also, Cohen suggested, some of those voters may not have been who they said they were in the first place.

Thankfully Rankin gave ink to both sides of the matter, unlike reporters back in early May who failed to give both sides of the debate in a story centered around supposedly disenfranchised Catholic nuns in Indiana. From my May 6 blog entry:

If you have been watching the primary election coverage tonight you've probably seen at least one story about elderly nuns from South Bend, Indiana, who were "denied the right to vote" for lack of a photo ID.

It's a shame when the mainstream media, bear false witness. Even more so when they exploit the nun angle to carry water for left-wing groups that opposed the law all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Under Indiana's voter ID law, persons lacking proper ID can vote. The only difference is they cast a provisional ballot which is not counted until after their identity is verified within 10 days following the election.

In one of her earliest drafts, AP's Deborah Hastings did note the 10-day provisional ballot exception, but still crafted her coverage to paint the South Bend sisters as the victims of an unforgiving law.

Media Bias Debate Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential Bias by Omission Major Newspapers Atlanta Journal/Constitution Government & Press Bill Rankin