Friday, October 10, 2008

Colorado Corrects the Record

Secretary of State Mike Coffman yesterday challenged the facts and conclusions of a New York Times story -- the subject of my blog post yesterday -- that claimed Colorado and 5 other states were illegally purging voters from the rolls. Coffman identified at least two major factual errors in the story; something he blamed on miscommunication between his office and the paper, rather than biased or sloppy journalism. And, just to make the critique bipartisan, State Democratic Party chair Pat Waak chimed in, confirming the inaccuracies.

The Rocky has a more thorough treatment of the story here.

Will the Times correct the record? Perhaps. But don't look for that in bold black on page 1-A. The correction will be tucked away, in the smallest print possible, where you'll have to hunt for it. And in the meantime, the perception has been created, just a few weeks before election day, that states are "illegally" purging people from the voter rolls, in what might sound, to a casual or sloppy news reader, like some sort of dark plot.

You can bet the story was also been clipped and filed away by certain law firms, just in case the outcomes of certain razor thin races are contested in court.

These problems originate not with the states, as I pointed out yesterday, but with Washington's 2002 effort to "fix" a state-based election system that wasn't, by and large, broken. That's the real story -- which the Times brushed past in its search for something more sensational.

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