The Media’s Failure with Voter Suppression
Sometimes, politics can be difficult. What is the appropriate tax rate for those making a certain amount of money? What should the role of the government be in our lives?
Other times, politics is easy. Voting should be encouraged in a democracy, and those who seek to disenfranchise eligible voters ought to be exposed.
Instead, for reasons I am not quite sure of, the media falls into the all-too-familiar trap of “both-sides”-ing a discussion about voting. Democrats want to make voting more accessible to American citizens, pushing for measures like automatic voter registration, early voting periods, and mail-in ballots. Republicans want to restrict voting, because voting is a privilege for certain kinds of citizens, and they support tactics like gerrymandering, purging voter rolls, and deploying a single ballot drop off box for a county of over two million Texans.
One side wants you vote. The other side doesn’t. It’s that simple.
The media assigns some sort of moral equivalency to both stances, despite no such equivalency existing. To them, this is another neutral issue, with liberals wanting one thing, and conservatives wanting another.
Let’s take a look at two examples from just today. First, Trump campaign official Jason Miller was on ABC News to discuss the election. “If you speak with many smart Democrats, they believe that President Trump will be ahead on election night, probably getting 280 electoral (votes), somewhere in that range,” he said.
“And then, they’re going to try and steal it back after the election.”
Mr. Miller is probably thinking about Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state (and statistically — the most likely tipping point) for Tuesday’s election. Pennsylvania does not count early or mail ballots prior to election day in accordance with state law. Therefore, it is likely that Trump will lead Pennsylvania on election day, but as the Democratic stronghold of mail and early ballots begin to be counted, the margin could disappear.
One question for Mr. Miller — how is counting the votes stealing an election? Of course, had Mr. Miller been interviewed by a competent reporter, such a followup would have been asked. But his bizarre stance that only some of the votes should be counted wasn’t fact checked, pressed, scrutinized, or challenged.
Or take Texas. A conservative activist attempted to sue Democrats in the Texas State Supreme Court over curbside voting in Harris County. The right wing attempt to throw out 120,000 ballots that had already been cast was astonishing.
The Texas Election Code permits it, the Secretary of State approved it, and the county commissioners unanimously agreed to roll it out after a summer pilot program was effective.
But Harris County, home to Houston, votes Democratic. We can’t have that. No no. Democrats were worried that the lawsuit would be successful because it was to be tried before a notoriously conservative state judge, but the judge threw the lawsuit out. A federal judge is set to hear the case tomorrow.
More ballots have been cast in Texas prior to election day than had been cast in all of 2016, a remarkable feat of civic engagement, and a healthy sign of a vibrant democracy.
The media is so paranoid about being seen as biased, particularly biased in a left-of-center manner. Journalists are also afraid of discerning what is right or wrong. Consider The New York Times’ headline for this very story: “In Blow to G.O.P., Texas Supreme Court Denies Petition to Invalidate 120,000 Ballots.”
Really? Over 100,000 Americans almost had their most fundamental democratic right — the right to participate in the government — violated by a bad faith activist, and it’s a “blow to the G.O.P.?” How about a potential blow to our democracy? To our freedoms?
But, no. This is just another partisan issue in a sea of left vs. right battles. I really would like to see the media push back on some of these disenfranchisement efforts by right wing special interest groups. Voting is essential, it is necessary, and it is good.
But I’m not holding my breath.