Appearance Alert!
MRC Research Director Rich Noyes on Fox Business Network at 5:55 p.m. ET

CBS Highlights Complaints About Voter ID Law in South Carolina

Monday's CBS Evening News ran a report by correspondent Nancy Cordes bolstering complaints by Democrats that the new voter ID law in South Carolina would make it more difficult for minorities to vote, and even incorrectly claimed that only Republican state legislatures have pushed such laws recently in other states.

Additionally, Cordes did not mention that South Carolina law would provide photo IDs for free and allow the use of provisional ballots for those who do not otherwise already have ID.

Anchor Scott Pelley introduced the report:

The federal government is actually blocking a new South Carolina election law. South Carolina is one of 11 states that have recently toughened requirements for voters, such as requiring a photo ID to vote. Supporters say the laws will reduce voter fraud, but opponents say they are really meant to suppress voter turnout.

After noting that demonstraters have been protesting the new law in South Carolina, soon came a soundbite of Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Justice Department is currently challenging the law: "The arc of American history has bent toward the inclusion, not the exclusion, of more of our fellow citizens in the electoral process."

Cordes added: "The Justice Department says South Carolina's law harms minority voters who are less likely to have a state ID."

The CBS correpondent then focused on one African-American voter in South Carolina who had voted withot an ID all his life, as he asserted that no cases of voter fraud had been found to justify the change in law.

And, although the Democratic-controlled legislature of Rhode Island passed a similar law last year, Cordes claimed that only Republican legislatures had done so recently:

Seven states have passed photo ID laws within the past year, four more cut back on early and absentee voting, and four placed new restrictions on voter registration drives. All of the laws were pushed through by Republican-led legislatures in the name of stamping out voter fraud.

After devoting two soundbites to a voting rights activist to make more complaints about the law, Cordes finally devoted a portion of her piece to a couple of soundbites of those advocating the new law.

By contrast, on Monday, January 2, on FNC's Special Report with Bret Baier, correspondent Jim Angle not only noted that an African-American state senator in Rhode Island had introduced a similar law which then passed a Democratic-controlled state legislature, but he also informed viewers that photo IDs would be offered for free and that provisional ballots would allow voters in South Carolina without ID the chance to vote:


JIM ANGLE: State officials are challenging the move in court, noting the IDs are free and that no voter is turned away.

ALAN WILSON, SOUTH CAROLINA ATTORNEY GENERAL: In our law, the person can show up to the polling place the day of the election. They can basically sign an affidavit stating they had reasonable impediment why they didn't have photo ID, and the presumption is against the state. Their vote will be counted.

PROFESSOR LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: A provisional ballot means if someone comes to the poll and is challenged on the basis of not having a photo ID, he or she is allowed to vote, and it is put in a separate pile.

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Monday, January 16, CBS Evening News:

SCOTT PELLEY: The federal government is actually blocking a new South Carolina election law. South Carolina is one of 11 states that have recently toughened requirements for voters, such as requiring a photo ID to vote. Supporters say the laws will reduce voter fraud, but opponents say they are really meant to suppress voter turnout. Here's Nancy Cordes.

NANCY CORDES: Hundreds of South Carolinians marched to the statehouse today to protest the state's new law requiring a photo ID to vote. The state is locked in a dispute over the law with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The arc of American history has bent toward the inclusion, not the exclusion, of more of our fellow citizens in the electoral process.

CORDES: The Justice Department says South Carolina's law harms minority voters who are less likely to have a state ID. Larry Butler has been voting without one all his life.

LARRY BUTLER, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: They have not any proof that there are any fraudulent activities and things like that, so why would they want to do this?

CORDES: Seven states have passed photo ID laws within the past year, four more cut back on early and absentee voting, and four placed new restrictions on voter registration drives. All of the laws were pushed through by Republican-led legislatures in the name of stamping out voter fraud.

MARY MANCINI, VOTING RIGHTS ADVOCATE: There's hardly any documented cases of the kind of voter fraud that they are talking about.

CORDES: Mary Mancini is a voting rights advocate in Tennessee, another state with a new photo ID law.

MANCINI: It's not like, you know, you woke up one day and said, "You know what, I'm going go and vote in my name, and I'm also going to vote in my dead neighbors name." That's not what happens.

CORDES: So are you saying this is a made-up problem?

MANCINI: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely it's a made-up problem.

CORDES: Republican State Senator Bill Ketron wrote the Tennessee law.

STATE SENATOR BILL KETRON (R-SC): We want to make sure that the purity of my vote or your vote is not disenfranchised by someone - all it takes is one - to knock your vote out.

CORDES: In South Carolina, the Republican Governor, Nikki Haley, stands behind her state's new law.

GOVERNOR NIKKI HALEY (R-SC): We have to show picture ID if we're using our check card or for getting on a plane or for buying Sudafed. What are you scared of?

CORDES: But the Justice Department has rejected the South Carolina law saying it violates the Voting Rights Act. That means it won't be in effect for this Saturday's primary, but the governor is threatening to sue the administration, Scott, to try to get the law reinstated.

- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center