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November 1, 2006

Analytical Assertions in TNS Articles

A reader recently wrote in to question an assertion in staff reporter Megan Tady’s article last week, "Supreme Court Lifts Injunction on Arizona Voter ID Law." The second paragraph stated: "Opponents of the law say it will disenfranchise legitimate voters, particularly low-income people, the elderly and people of color. The law is aimed mostly at immigrants."

As a policy, we make brief, analytical assertions in narrative text only when they are overwhelmingly supported by conclusive evidence. Otherwise, we attribute them to human sources, or we explain them in greater detail.

In this case, the evidence that the law in question is indeed aimed at immigrants is in fact conclusive. Besides the public arguments made in favor of the law, the text of the legislation itself demonstrates our assertion is a truism.

The rule is part of larger legislation addressing immigration, and it is very clear from the language that the voter ID requirement -- which is combined with proof of citizenship, as noted in our brief -- is intended to prevent undocumented immigrants from voting.

The legislation's introduction reads:

This state finds that illegal immigration is causing economic hardship to this state and that illegal immigration is encouraged by public agencies within this state that provide public benefits without verifying immigration status. This state further finds that illegal immigrants have been given a safe haven in this state with the aid of identification cards that are issued without verifying immigration status, and that this conduct contradicts federal immigration policy, undermines the security of our borders and demeans the value of citizenship. Therefore, the people of this state declare that the public interest of this state requires all public agencies within this state to cooperate with federal immigration authorities to discourage illegal immigration.

This is why we concluded it was safe to assert that the legislation was "aimed mostly at immigrants." In fact, by inserting "mostly," the assertion left room for the implications the law has on citizens who might try to vote fraudulently, even though they were not the primary target of the legislation in which the ID requirement was packaged.

All that being said, it is always fair to question assertions made in the media, and we welcome readers to highlight suspect statements that are neither attributed nor fully explained.


dianajurema: Analytical Assertions in TNS Articles

I saw nothing wrong with the entry. To the contrary!

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.