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. 



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.