Monday, September 27, 2004

Fox tries to suppress the vote in a swing state; news media yawns (except for Katha Pollitt in The Nation):

Juliana Zuccaro and Kelly Kraus thought they were exercising their civic rights and responsibilities on August 31 when, as officers of the Network of Feminist Student Activists at the University of Arizona in Tucson, they helped set up a voter-registration drive on the UA mall. Imagine their astonishment when the local Fox affiliate news team showed up and lit into the young women. "The reporter asked if we knew that we were potentially signing students up to commit felonies," Juliana told me--by registering out-of-state students to vote in Arizona. When Kelly then asserted that Arizona law requires only that those registering be resident in the state twenty-nine days before the election, Natalie Tejeda, the Fox reporter, insisted it was illegal to register students. On the news that night, student voter registration was the crime du jour....

When an urgent e-mail from UA professor Laura Briggs about the Fox broadcast flashed across my screen a few days later, I assumed that such an egregious example of voter intimidation by proxy--with GOP TV standing in for, well, the GOP--would be all over the media by the time my next column deadline rolled around, so I passed on it. Silly me. As I write three weeks later, almost nothing has appeared outside the local press....

Pollitt points out that the students absolutely have the law on their side -- "a 1979 Supreme Court ruling affirming their right to vote where they attend school."

The Fox report quotes a local election official:

Tejeda: What many don't realize is that legally, students from out of state aren't eligible to vote in Arizona because they're considered temporary residents.

Chris Roads [Pima County Registrar's office]: If they are only here to attend school and their intention is to immediately return to where they came from when school is over then they are not residents of the state of Arizona for voting purposes and they cannot register to vote here.

Turns out Roads was brazenly quoted out of context:

When I spoke to Chris Roads, the official quoted in Tejeda's story--yes, he's a Republican--he claimed that Fox had quoted him out of context. His mention of "felony" was originally addressed to a "hypothetical" posed by Tejeda: What would he say to someone who planned to flat-out lie--who said, "I don't live here, can I fill out the form?" Roads says he was "shocked when it blossomed into a story about prosecuting people" for registering....

It's deceptive, partisan, and shameless. It's Fox. But I repeat myself.


(To be sure, this isn't as bad as the Republican registrar in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, throwing out new registrations because they're on the wrong paper stock, a blatant violation of the law.)


UPDATE: A New York Times editorial cites the Fox report in Arizona as part of a pattern of impediments to student voting.

No comments: