Over the weekend, CBS4 Denver News Director Tim Wieland took the unusual — but correct –step of removing a story from its website because it was factually inaccurate.
On Sunday, CBS4 Denver and Shaun Boyd published a DIFFERENT story about its own erroneously-reported news from a few days earlier. Look at this headline:
“Colorado’s Secretary Of State Sets The Record Straight On Voter Registration Postcards”
The only “record” that needed to be set straight was the false one created by Boyd on Friday, but Boyd’s new lede doesn’t make that at all clear:
Secretary of State Jena Griswold is trying to clear up any confusion after a story by CBS4 about a voter registration mailing by her office.
This would have been a better lede: Secretary of State Jena Griswold explains why a previous CBS4 Denver story was totally wrong.
While this new CBS4 story is obviously a sort of mea culpa to the Colorado Secretary of State’s (SOS) office, Boyd’s framing hasn’t changed much from her original nonsense narrative:
The mailing she’s referring to says: “Our records indicate that you or a member of your household may be eligible to vote but do not appear to be registered at your current address.” It goes on to delineate the qualifications to vote: 18 years of age, U.S. citizen and Colorado resident at least 22 days before the election.
As CBS4 reported last week, about a dozen of the postcards — that we know of — went to people who were not citizens or deceased. [Pols emphasis]
Some people got a postcard with information that doesn’t apply to them. So what?
The inference here is that the SOS office is encouraging non-citizens and dead people to vote in the 2020 election, but this is a silly projection that has no factual basis. Encouraging people to register to vote in no way ensures that they will then register to vote or be eligible to do so. Perhaps Boyd is the sort of person who receives a letter from Publishers Clearing House that says “you may have won $1 million dollars” and immediately assumes that she did, in fact, become a millionaire overnight. Alas, receiving a piece of mail — whether you were meant to receive it or not — does not provide you with any special abilities or advantages that you didn’t have before you opened your mailbox.
This vague “voter fraud” inference is, unfortunately, exactly what Republicans such as Donald Trump, Jr. are eager to promote. Take a look at this Tweet from right-wing nonsense provocateur George Brauchler:
Well, they’re only mailing registration reminders to dead people and non-citizens. There’s no way that could happen with ballots, right?
— George Brauchler (@GeorgeBrauchler) September 26, 2020
Boyd’s false reporting encourages nitwits like Brauchler to break out their Twitter machines and cry out “fraud,” but it doesn’t change the very important fact that NON-CITIZENS AND DEAD PEOPLE CAN’T REGISTER TO VOTE (for that matter, dead people also can’t read a postcard that was erroneously mailed to their former residence). As Ian Silverii of ProgressNow Colorado explained via Twitter:
Voter fraud in Colorado and the rest of the United States is virtually nonexistent (in the 2016 election, there were four documented cases of voter fraud out of about 138 million votes cast, which works out to about 0.00000003 percent). Christopher Wray, the Director of the FBI, testified in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee LAST WEEK and reaffirmed the safety of our elections:
“Now, we have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise.”
It is nice that CBS4 Denver allowed SOS Jena Griswold the opportunity to correct their own misinformation, but this second story does not fix the original mistake. This is just doubling-down on bad journalism with more bad journalism.