AP Writer Falsely Casts Voter ID Laws As a 'Mainly' Partisan Issue

The Associated Press's Mark Sherman, as noted by Jim Taranto at Best of the Web, "reports on a pending Supreme Court case in a way that seems to give both sides their due, but in substance does not."

Here are the first three paragraphs of Sherman's report (bolds are mine):

The dispute over Indiana's voter ID law that is headed to the Supreme Court in January is as much a partisan political drama as a legal tussle.

On one side are mainly Republican backers of the law, including the Bush administration, who say state-produced photo identification is a prudent measure intended to cut down on vote fraud. Yet there have been no Indiana prosecutions of in-person voter fraud — the kind the law is supposed to prevent.

On the other side are mainly Democratic opponents who call voter ID a modern-day poll tax that will disproportionately affect poor, minority and elderly voters — who tend to back Democrats. Yet, a federal judge found that opponents of the law were unable to produce evidence of a single, individual Indiana resident who had been barred from voting because of the law.

Taranto's complaint is fine, as far as it goes, in that Sherman cleverly limits his comparison to Indiana law, when he (Sherman) probably knows full well that:

  • Opponents of voter ID laws are, as far as I know, unable to produce evidence of a single, individual Indiana or non-Indiana US resident who has been barred from voting because of the law.
  • Proponents of such laws are able to find plenty of example of "in-person" voter-registration and vote-casting fraud in states other than Indiana. A simple Google search on "ACORN vote fraud" (without the quotes) confirms that. Several related posts are here, here, and here.

The further quarrel I have is with Sherman's characterization of voter-ID backers as "mainly Republican." This totally ignores the fact that a bipartisan commission headed by Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican James Baker III came out in favor of Voter ID verification in their September 2005 report (2-page PDF here).

In fact, in May of 2006, as the debate over immigration reform and its possible effects on the voting process heated up, John Fund noted that "the biggest surprise was that 18 of 21 commissioners backed a requirement that voters show some form of photo identification."

"Mainly," schmainly, Mr. Sherman.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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