Newspapers Silent About ALEC’s Link To “Voter ID” Laws


The Center for Media and Democracy’s

The links between the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and “voter ID” legislation have been well-documented, but newspapers in the states impacted most severely by the voter suppression legislation have been largely silent on this connection. A new analysis by Media Matters finds that “the largest newspapers in the seven states that enacted voter ID laws in 2011 have largely ignored ALEC’s influence.” ALEC is a group that brings together right-wing state legislators and corporations to vote on cookie-cutter “model” bills behind closed doors. The bills largely benefit corporations and Republican political interests.

As CMD has previously reported, ALEC began to focus on voter ID shortly after 2008, when the highest general election turnout in nearly 60 years swept America’s first black president into office with strong support from college students and African-Americans. Soon, “Preventing Election Fraud” was the cover story on the Inside ALEC magazine, and ALEC corporations and politicians approved “model” voter ID legislation in 2009. Around 34 voter ID bills modeled after the ALEC template were introduced in 2011.

The legislation — which requires that voters show a state-issued ID to vote — has been criticized as an effort to disenfranchise students, the elderly and minorities, who are less likely to have the appropriate type of ID. According to a 2011 report by the Brennan Center for Justice, as many as 5 million people do not have the ID required under the new laws and as a result could be disenfranchised in 2012.
Only One State Newspaper Noted Link Between ALEC and Voter ID

Since CMD released a trove of “model” ALEC bills in July 2011, including the template “model” voter ID bill, national (and even international) media outlets have documented the ALEC roots of voter ID. Outlets including Rolling Stone, Democracy Now!, CNN, Mother Jones, The Washington Post, Al Jazeera English, The Guardian, The Associated Press and scores of others have produced pieces documenting the link between ALEC and the nearly-identical voter ID legislation that have sprouted up across the country in the past year.

However, state-based newspapers of the type read by most voters have barely mentioned the link.

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