Last week, the New York Times happily related the heart-warming tale of Mario Hernandez, a former federal employee and an Army veteran who for decades thought he was a United States citizen but wasn’t. The problem was rectified at last when he was sworn in as a citizen in a ceremony in Jacksonville, Florida. In the process of telling the story, the Times casually notes that he voted in every major election since Jimmy Carter’s in 1976. The Times’ ethics alarms are long dead: to them, this is just a detail on the way to arguing one of its pet agenda items, that the immigration system needs fixing. It does, but one weird story where a series of record-keeping errors resulted in a botched citizenship status doesn’t prove it. Because he has a different concern, however Wall Street Journal blogger James Taranto did the math. Hernandez, a non-citizen, voted in ten elections, by his own admission, and nobody knew.
That is significant, and does prove something. It proves that the Democratic, NAACP, Eric Holder mainstream media claim that there is no evidence that people are voting in elections who shouldn’t is a problem worthy of addressing is a cynical excuse to cry racism to tar Republicans who are pushing for an obvious, practical, responsible requirement of photo ID cards to establish voter eligibility. As Taranto points out, such a system would have not only prevented Hernandez’s invalid—but tallied*—votes, but also would have alerted him decades ago of his citizenship problem. More important, the incident illustrates the inherent dishonesty of the argument that because a large number of such votes by non-citizens haven’t been caught, they problem doesn’t exist. If one non-citizen, however innocently, could have voted ten times over decades without it being noted, it is fair to assume that there is a problem. Voter IDs address the problem; it is irresponsible not to address the problem, and to argue that only racism could be behind an effort to improve the integrity of a system that allows a single non-citizen to cast ten votes is unfair, irresponsible and intentionally misleading.
The remarkable thing, however, is that the New York Times is so focused on the immigration side of the issue that it didn’t even occur to the writer or the editor that the incidents raises and clarifies the issues in the voter ID controversy. The kind interpretation of this failure is that it is confirmation bias: so made up is the collective mind of the highly-respected propaganda organ (at least among its editorials staff) of the Democratic party that it is only capable of interpreting the facts as supporting its position, and the other obvious and undeniable implications of ten illegal votes are just buried in the blur of bias. The more sinister interpretation is that this is contrived ignorance: the Times chooses not to follow the part of the story that may lead to facts that undermine the beneficial race-baiting of its political allies. In either case, incompetent, naive and inept, or politicized, cynical and deceptive, it is lousy journalism.
The Instapundit, law professor Glenn Reynolds, has opined that if the majority of illegal or fraudulent voters were believed to be Republicans, it would be Democrats pushing for voter IDs. He leaves out the flip side, which is that in that hypothetical scenario, Republicans would certainly be singing the same tune Democrats and the Times are now. But who takes the ethically correct position and why is irrelevant to the validity of the position itself. Is some, much, even most of the verve behind Republican efforts to require voter ID’s based in part on the realization that it will inconvenience more Democratic voting groups than likely Republicans? Sure. Are some, much, or even most of those Democrats, including judges, who argue that voter IDs are inherently racist really exploiting the issue for political advantage and to preserve a reliable bloc of illegal Democrat voters? Almost certainly.
None of this changes the inherent and objective reasonableness and self-evident wisdom of having a measure in place that requires voters to be who they say they are, and what they are supposed to be: U.S. citizens. If journalists did their jobs ethically and reported the issue fairly, the various unethical motivations of the two parties wouldn’t matter.
* Including in the 2000 presidential election, and in Florida. How many Hernadezes would it have taken to make Al Gore President? Not many.