- Accuracy in Media - https://www.aim.org -

Salon misses major point in piece on Texas voting laws

A law against people voting wrongly is not refuted by people being wrongly prevented from voting by the new law. It’s even possible to conclude that the new law, by preventing that wrongful voting, is doing its job. This is the – very basic – logic that Salon is missing in its report on the new Texas voting laws [1]. 

We should all be able to agree on the basic facts. The rules around who may vote, how they identify themselves, how they vote, have changed in Texas. The number of rejected ballots has risen.

Salon then concludes that this is the reinstatement of Jim Crow and an appalling rejection of true democracy.

“Throwback to Jim Crow”: New Texas voting law means Black voters’ ballots get tossed

Note that we do not say that either of these outcomes are the true and correct one. We are making a logical argument here, not insisting upon a revealed truth. A new law about voter identification on mail in ballots (which is a goodly part of this new system) could prevent those who should be able to vote from voting. That’s the Salon insistence. The same new law could prevent those who formerly voted, but should not be allowed to vote, from voting.

That people are prevented from voting – or that ballots are tossed – is not proof of either of these possibilities. For either one would produce the same result, ballots being tossed. The logical error Salon is making is to insist that it must be, can only be, the prevention of legal voting which is producing the tossed ballots.

Salon ranks around 73 in the listings of sites for law and government. It gains around 7 million visits a month as it does so. It’s also rather more important than that in the progressive politics information circuit. We do tend to think that readers would be better served by at least discussing – even if only to reject – logically possible outcomes here.

 As it happens our own view is simply that this is a new system and folk aren’t used to it yet. This, to our mind, applies to those casting and those counting the votes. It’ll bed down and the error rate fall.

But it is still true that a law preventing people from doing some bad thing is not refuted by the number of people prevented from doing that thing. There is that logical possibility that the law is doing its job.