Coverage of Voter ID Law Court Cases Depends on Result

January 7th, 2007 10:24 AM

Last week, a Federal Appeals Court upheld Indiana's Voter ID law (HT Volokh):

Appeals court upholds voter ID law

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's law that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls is not too burdensome, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said Thursday in a 2-1 ruling that upholds the 2005 law.

..... The 7th U.S. Circuit Court questioned arguments that Indiana's rule is unfair to poor, elderly, minority and disabled voters, and pointed out that opponents could not find anyone unable to cast a ballot under the new law.

..... Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, who pushed for the voter ID law, said the ruling was a victory for election reform.

"The seventh circuit affirmed what we have seen from four successful elections in Indiana under the photo ID law - this is a common-sense way to protect honest voters and to improve voter confidence," he said.

Judge Terence T. Evans dissented with the majority opinion, which affirms an earlier decision of U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Evans said there was no evidence of voter fraud in Indiana that could be avoided with the photo ID law.

"Let's not beat around the bush," Evans wrote. "The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic."

Despite Judge Evans' intemperate remarks, the story received minimal coverage. A Google News search on the Associated Press story title above (without quotes) found only 23 stories, and almost all of them were in Hoosier State publications. The Los Angeles Times did have a story, leading with (as it usually does with non-unanimous decisions it appears not to like) "A sharply divided federal appeals court ...."

The Washington Post and New York Times, based on on-site searches, appear not to have covered the story. Additionally, I do not recall hearing or seeing radio or TV coverage of this ruling on the Indiana law in the past few days.

But when a Georgia state court judge ruled to prevent enforcement of that state's voter ID law in September of last year, the coverage was much more extensive (though the LA Times appears not to have covered it in-house):

  • The Washington Post had an in-house story.
  • The New York Times covered it (only Free Preview available), and also had what appears to have been a scathing editorial the following day (only Free Preview available) criticizing Republican attempts to pass national and state voter ID laws.
  • I recall that there was at least some mention of the Georgia ruling on major TV and radio outlets.

Voter ID court case coverage appears to fit an ongoing modus operandi for the formerly Mainstream Media -- If a ruling favors a liberal or Democratic cause, cover it. If it doesn't, try to ignore it.

Cross-posted at