Why Was a Black Woman Photoshopped Out of an Anti–Voting Reform Ad?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 24 2013 1:10 PM

Why Was a Black Woman Photoshopped Out of an Anti–Voting Reform Ad?

Via Scott Keyes, with all credit to ColoradoPols, this is a story that requires some trainee psychoanalysis. Colorado's Democratic-run legislature is moving quickly on a bill to make voting easier -- same-day registration, voter database, etc. The Republican Secretary of State opposes the bill. Citizens for Free and Fair Elections, a letterhead organization headquartered at the suite of the secretary's old law firm, sent out a mailer basically mischaracterizing the bill, and using an image of stressed-looking voters on election day. One catch:

The only black woman in the photo had been photoshopped out, replaced by the woman standing next to her. Why?

"The mail house just made a monumental mistake," says Mario Nicolas, counsel for Citizens for Free and Fair Elections. "And they hadn't informed the folks here that they'd done the Photoshop. I think they just weren't thinking."

The mail house in question was Wizbang Solutions, which has been issuing a curt response to questions.

Wizbang Solutions, in an effort to underscore the theme of voter fraud, edited a stock photo. Our actions were merely to provide a visual context of the same person waiting in line to vote. Any assertions that the editing was for any other purpose is political folly and takes away from the subtle undertone intended by our artist

If they won't explain any further, we have to guess: They were worried about coming off as racists. Throughout 2012, Democrats and journalists (hello there!) did the unthinkable, and lowered public support for Voter ID laws and other restrictions on voting by proving that, without a lot of safeguards and some beta-testing, they disproportionately affected non-white voters. Wizbang must have worried about the image of a black woman front and center on their mailer.

Nicolas isn't convinced by my theory. "I know there are a lot of people out there who are looking out for racism in a story like this," he say, "but we're beyond the time when there are out and out racists."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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