MSNBC's Roberts Only Features Anti-Voter ID Rep in Segment on Pa. Court Ruling, Also Lets Her Mislead Viewers on Ohio Law

As we at NewsBusters have documented repeatedly, MSNBC has done its level best to hype voter ID laws as a "voter suppression" attempt by the GOP to "disenfranchise" voters who traditionally fall into the Democratic column. Today's MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts was no exception.

Roberts informed viewers of ruling by a judge on the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court yesterday -- read the PDF of it here --  that refused to grant a temporary injunction to block the state's new photo ID law. To discuss the ruling and the decision by opponents of the law to appeal, Roberts interviewed Penda Hair of the liberal Advancement Project, a group opposed to new voter ID laws. However, Roberts both failed to bring on anyone who would defend the law nor did he press Hair with any tough questions. Additionally, Roberts let Hair get away with a misleading argument about early voting in the neighboring state of Ohio.


"The problem in Ohio is that the state has, the Secretary of State has eliminated weekend voting, particularly the early voting the weekend before the election," Hair groused, adding that that is traditionally when "the African-American community" does "souls to the polls" drives that bring churchgoers to early-voting stations following worship services.

"We believe that it hurts voters who are most vulnerable," Hair complained.

Of course Hair left out that the secretary of state's recent move to standardize county election office hours for early voting will actually EXPAND hours of weekday coverage in some counties. As noted in the Cincinnati Community Press & Recorder:

Under Husted’s order, election boards must remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday during the first three weeks after early voting starts Oct. 2, and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays for the final two weeks before the Nov. 6 election. The one exception is Oct. 9, the deadline for registering to vote, when all election boards will be open until 9 p.m.

Although some boards already had scheduled Saturday voting hours, Husted overruled that option, deciding that no weekend voting hours will be offered throughout Ohio. (A federal lawsuit in which President Barack Obama’s campaign is seeking to restore early voting for non-military voters during the final Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day could change that for at least that one weekend.)

The Hamilton County election board’s normal office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. In Butler County, the board’s regular business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, and both the Clermont and Warren County offices are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

What's more, the liberal activist conveniently left out that in Ohio, any registered voter can opt to exercise his or her right to vote by choosing to vote with an absentee ballot and that, in fact, someone voting absentee can present his/her ballot in person at their county board of elections as late as 6 p.m. on the Friday before the election. Absentee voters may also mail it in so long as it is postmarked no later than the Monday prior to the election.

From the secretary of state's website (emphasis added):

All Ohio voters have the opportunity to vote in the next Primary or General Election from the convenience of their own homes by requesting an absentee ballot. You can request your ballot for each individual election beginning on January 1 or 90 days before the date of an election, whichever is earlier. Your request must be received by your local county board of elections by noon the third day before the election (usually a Saturday). However, you should submit your request as far in advance of the election as possible to ensure there is sufficient time for the board to mail you a ballot and for you to timely return that ballot.

[...]

You can send it by U.S. mail or deliver it in person to your county board of elections, but the return envelope containing your marked ballot must either be received by your county board of elections prior to the close of the polls on Election Day, or postmarked no later than the day before the election and received by the board of elections no later than 10 days after the election. You cannot fax or e-mail a voted ballot.

That of course, is PLENTY of time for early voting via the absentee process. What's more, unlike voting in person, absentee voters need not present a photo ID, which MSNBC seems to worry so much about (emphasis added):

Once you have completed your application by providing your name, address, date of birth, form of identification and address to which your ballot should be mailed, print and sign it. Qualifying forms of identification include writing on the application your driver’s license number (which begins with two alphabet letters followed by six numbers) or the last four digits of your Social Security number OR a making a photocopy (to enclose with your application when mailed to the board of elections) of either your current and valid photo identification, military identification, or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows your name and current address.

As to yesterday's Pennsylvania court ruling, Roberts failed to note that the judge found that some of the petitioners in the court case were likely to be able to vote absentee in the Keystone State, where a voter ID is not required. Additionally, the judge noted, every single one of the petitioners would, if unable to provide government-issued ID at the polling place on election day, be able to cast a provisional ballot and establish their identity later before the vote is counted.

As such, the judge concluded, there was no actual impairment of the right to vote by the law's requirements.

You can read Judge Robert Simpson's ruling here.

The bottom line: Roberts's segment with Hair was par for the course for MSNBC when it comes to inaccurate, one-sided reporting on the voter ID issue.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters