Casey muddles through vote-fraud controversy

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Charles Kuffner criticizes Chronicle columnist Rick Casey for getting “a bit muddled about the actual fraud that Rep. Will Hartnett found in his discovery process” in the Talmadge Heflin challenge.

I agree that Casey is muddled, but for slightly different reasons.

Here is a relevant excerpt from Casey’s column:

But as it turns out, the hearings did turn up evidence of some election fraud, with considerable irony.

It seems that Heflin’s team found a group of African-American voters in the Vo-Heflin race who, voter-registration records indicated, had moved into another legislative district, that of Democrat Rep. Scott Hochberg.

But it turned out that these voters had not moved. Someone had fraudulently filed change-of-address cards for them. Who might have done that?

A reporter for a left-wing Web site wrote about these and about some questionable entries on voter forms provided by the Heflin legal team.

Instead of showing Democratic fraud, the reporter said, the hearings “served up a fine public record of practices by Republicans and unknown others that would suppress their rights.”

Soon the article was circulating by e-mail among Democratic activists, some of whom demanded an investigation by the district attorney.

As it turns out, the District Attorney’s Office already was investigating the fraudulent address changes at Bettencourt’s request.

But the suspect isn’t a Republican, and the fraudulent address changes don’t appear to have been intended to affect the Heflin-Vo race.

Investigators think they were falsely changed in the hopes that the voters in question, mostly naturalized African immigrants, could be persuaded to vote for a Nigerian immigrant in the Democratic primary against Rep. Hochberg. (Authorities have been unable to find the erstwhile candidate for questioning.)

It is the good fortune of the Democratic activists who voiced their suspicions to a few thousand friends over the Internet that their rhetoric didn’t rise to public attention.

Casey’s condescension towards his readers couldn’t be more apparent.

Why not name the “reporter” and the “left-wing website” (and link them in the online edition) and let readers decide if his thoughts are relevant, in context? For that matter, why not name these “investigators” who are quoted?

Instead, Casey behaves as if his readers must be shielded from scary internet sites that might offer up a point of view. That’s SO old media. And in this age, it’s really a disservice to savvy news consumers who might like to figure out the story for themselves.

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