NYT reports on voter turnout, ignores own story's most obvious possibility

From my friend MR in Texas comes a link to this story from the Old Gray Lady of the Evening. It’s a story about the lower rates of voter turnout in states that require some form of ID versus those states that don’t require squat before letting people exercise the franchise. Not necessarily their franchise, mind you. Watch as the Times dances on the head of a fake voter’s pen.

States that imposed identification requirements on voters reduced turnout at the polls in the 2004 presidential election by about 3 percent, and by two to three times as much for minorities, new research suggests.

What a loaded lead! “States that imposed identification…” How about “States that made sure voters are who they say they are…” or “States that battle voter fraud by asking voters to prove identity before casting ballots…” Of course, the second would require the Times to use the f-word — fraud — a word it never uses in a story that should obviously deal with voter fraud. Bias by omission. We continue:

The study, prepared by scholars at Rutgers and Ohio State Universities for the federal Election Assistance Commission, supports concerns among voting-rights advocates that blacks and Hispanics could be disproportionately affected by ID requirements. But federal officials say more research is needed to draw firmer conclusions about the effects on future elections.

If true, there are a few ways to look at this. One, minority voters are being disenfranchised somehow by being asked for ID even though it’s pretty much impossible to conduct any other commerce without some evidence of ID. You can’t get on a plane without ID, for instance. Two, some of these potential voters may not be here legally. That, along with fraud, is a possibility that the Times dare not raise. Three, the NAACP and other racial lobbying organizations routinely run scare campaigns telling minorities that giving proof of ID at polls is a form of discrimination or intimidation. That alone might scare off potential minority voters, and those groups can then turn around and use the depressed voting stats to mau mau other more stringent states into dropping their ID requirements. This Times story seems to be a good example of that dynamic at work. Four, fraud. Where there are lower or no ID requirements, you’re inviting fraud. The Times just can’t see that as a possibility, though.

Tim Vercellotti, a professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University who helped conduct the study, said that in the states where voters were required to sign their names or present identifying documents like utility bills, blacks were 5.7 percent less likely to vote than in states where voters simply had to say their names.

Dr. Vercellotti said Hispanics appeared to be 10 percent less likely to vote under those requirements, while the combined rate for people of all races was 2.7 percent.

Ah-ha! So it’s not just minority voting that’s down in states that require ID. It’s true across all racial strata. There are two ways to look at this. One, the lower turnout in ID states is a reflection of intimidation, lack of proper ID among minority groups (which makes little sense given the difficulty of conducting everyday commerce without some form of ID) or something else bad. Two, the higher turnout in non-ID states is a reflection of either a lack of intimidation or, you guessed it, increased fraud in those states. The vote tally in non-ID states may be off by nearly 3 percent just because of voter fraud, made possible by the lack of ID standards and requirements! The Times just doesn’t see this possibility.

Go read the rest of the story. It’s a fascinating exercise in picking at gnats while ignoring the elephant in the middle of the polling place.