National Public Radio’s recent article on election reforms in traditionally conservative states demonstrates a fundamental media bias against strengthening the protection of the ballot box, at a crucial moment when Americans’ trust in their ballot being counted is in jeopardy.
Highlighting the reforms in states such as Texas, Tennessee, and Arizona, the narrative projects the traditional critique: election reforms are voter suppression and election reforms target certain groups. The article ignores provisions of these reforms that directly ensure stronger electoral integrity. While looking at the legislative proposal in Texas, the author states that “Texas Senate Bill 9 — which was recently approved by the state Senate and is under consideration by the legislature — would make it a felony, punishable by jail time, for anyone who provides false information on a voter registration form or casts a ballot when they are ineligible, even if it’s by mistake.”
The article fails to even mention that the law would strengthen accountability for vote counts, add provisions for precinct results to be reviewed by representatives from political parties, address issues such as impeding access to polling locations, create signature verification committees for absentee ballots, and introduce protections for voters who involuntarily or unknowingly submit ineligible ballots. Like much of mainstream media coverage of elections, this article shows willful ignorance toward efforts designed to improve the reliability of elections, and at worst, undermines good faith efforts to improve electoral accountability.
Although the sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-TX) concludes that “This bill is aimed at people who are intentionally cheating…This is not to catch people who make an honest mistake,” opponents of ballot integrity will continue to demonize good faith efforts to protect democracy, and undermine the spirit of the Constitution.