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Voter suppression is the story that affects every other story

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The fight for the next election is already underway. And it should be a focal point of media coverage in the coming months, because the right to vote is the story that affects all other news.

The latest development: On Wednesday, Senate Democrats introduced the People’s Bill, the broad electoral and voting package passed the house earlier this month. The package “would counter state-level Republican efforts to curb access to the polls,” according to CNN Kelly Mena wrote.
Republicans, through statewide efforts, are trying make it difficult for some citizens to vote. Democrats generally try to expand access to the vote. And some prominent Dems say the media is not giving this issue the attention it deserves.

“While the January 6 physical attack was well covered by the media, the equally damaging legal assault against the vote has received relatively little attention,” Marc Elias, chairman of the Political Law Group, told me. Perkins Coie.

Elias, a longtime Democratic voting rights lawyer, said he believed “the attack on voting rights” is “the least known story at the moment.”

False balance in the coverage of votes?

Of course, not being informed is the same as being “discovered.” (Elias tagged some reporters when he he tweeted on last month’s lack of coverage.) There have been fort reports, to be sure. But Elias said he believes the media has an underlying challenge to “cover stories about American democracy” because “journalists are uncomfortable treating one side as right and the other as wrong on issues they consider fundamentally about the politics”.

Here is the argument Elias made to me: “The typical structure of a story about voting rights thus becomes: (1) Republicans are approving an unprecedented number of new voting restrictions; (2 ) Democrats and civil rights groups say they will harm voters; (3) Republicans say it is necessary to protect the integrity of elections.In this structure, only the first is treated as a fact. and the third is the competitive claims of each party.This formula leads the media to report on “big” articles on voting.rights, with many facts and figures (section 1), followed by quotes from each side (sections 2 and 3) . “

Elias said stories about First Amendment violations are covered differently (without the two-part structure), and this is how voting rights should be addressed as well. Don’t consider this “a political story,” he argued, but a story “about our democracy.”

Journalists should ask for details

Jo posed this problem with Jennifer Morrell and Jessica Huseman on “Reliable Sources” last Sunday. Huseman is the editorial director of a new outlet, VoteBeat, which describes itself as an “emerging non-profit press room covering local election administration and voting in eight states.”
Huseman pointed out that electoral fraud in various forms has been “a point of discussion for the far right of the Republican party for decades,” so President Trump’s electoral lies were “based on a historical basis of decades of false claims.” . Therefore, the media should call this campaign what it is: these are lies, intended to suppress the vote.

Morrell, of The Elections Group, said that “one of the most important things the media has to do here is really push these lawmakers who claim they are making these changes to increase voter confidence or to further secure the way to carry out the vote. “Be specific, Morrell said, and see if they have evidence or if they’re just washing away last year’s big lie.

Invoices should be based “on facts, not falsehoods”

The News Literacy Project heavy on this issue the other day: “Because many states are considering measures to change the way voters participate in elections, we urge elected officials to base their actions on credible evidence.” The organization said statewide bills based on the Big Lie go against “our values ​​and would permanently harm voting rights, which are among the most sacred principles of American democracy.” “.

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