As the Republican legislatures have tried to implement voter ID laws in recent years, the media have cried foul. Aside from the predictable charges of racism, the main argument is that such laws are a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.
Mother Jones: "UFO Sightings Are More Common Than Voter Fraud" Washington Post: "The disconnect between voter ID laws and voter fraud" MSNBC: "The voter-fraud problem that plainly doesn't exist" PBS: "Why Voter ID Laws Aren't Really about Fraud"
One could go on and on citing dismissive media examples of the phenomenon. However, this morning the media have latched on to voter fraud in a big way. It seems Trump campaign manager and former Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon is registered to vote at an unoccupied house in Florida. This has been dutifully reported by dozens, if not hundreds, of media outlets. Given that Trump has intimated that if he loses the election it will be because the system is "rigged," I understand that the media are happy to bathe in schadenfreude here.
But aside from this being a disposable campaign story, does the media really think that what Bannon is doing is uncommon? Because the idea that voter fraud doesn't happen or is inconsequential is absolute nonsense. For instance, Al Franken should, in all likelihood, not be Minnesota's senator, much less have been in the position to cast the deciding vote on Obamacare. Franken won by 312 votes in an election where we now know 1,099 felons illegally voted. Aside from felons illegally voting, in 2014 two liberal academics made waves when they published a major survey of voter data in the journal Electoral Studies. The survey included the alarming finding that "more than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote."
If you pay attention, voter fraud convictions aren't that uncommon. Earlier this month Alabama convicted a woman of 24 counts of voter fraud. And Alabama's secretary of state is currently investigating allegations of fraud in a mayoral race. Which is odd, because two years ago MSNBC was crowing that "Alabama GOP struggles to find voter fraud despite $1,000 reward." Seems to me that they're doing just fine on that front.
But Alabama is a reliably GOP state these days, so you have a party that is willing to try and enforce the law. Voter fraud overwhelmingly benefits Democrats, so there's no real incentive in much of the country where Democrats are in power to root out voter fraud and prosecute it. And because Democrats don't even bother, the media writes stories pointing to the lack of convictions as proof that voter fraud is a 'myth.'
It's worth mentioning that the current momentum for voter ID laws and other attempts to crack down on voter fraud have a proximate cause. The ACORN scandal resulted in dozens of felony convictions in multiple states. ACORN had likely engaged in fraudulent activities for years, but it was only when a conservative citizen journalist did an undercover investigation that turned it into a national news story. (James O'Keefe's video was so devastatingly effective, that now the media just hunker down and ignore shocking undercover videos, as we saw in last year's startling Planned Parenthood fetal parts exposé.)
It's hard to argue that the media don't ignore voter fraud, and as absentee and early voting have become more popular, the problem is likely intensifying. It seems to me that reporters' zeal for reporting on one man's dubious voter registration is only a reminder that the media are hypocritical and negligent.