Over the weekend, the New York Times’ version of Nate Silver, Nate Cohn, wrote up a “well, actually” piece about the Georgia voter restriction law. According to the best research available — two papers (!) — it seems that it’s hard to see a major impact on turnout, and partisan advantage, for some examples of voter suppression.
First, pardon my commitment to “data” and “science” if I don’t think that two studies of questionable applicability tell me much of anything about the effects of the Georgia law. This is, in general, my gripe about data journalism: there’s just not enough good data to draw evidence-based conclusions, so it devolves into speculative punditry with a patina of scientific respectability. I stopped following Nate Silver on Twitter because I can get uninformed speculation from the guy sitting alone at the end of the bar if I ever feel the need.
Second, some things are beyond the need to do a sketchy “well actually” analysis piece, and a fundamental right like voting is a great example of one of those things. “Well, actually, we found two studies of people who had their little toes amputated and they walk just fine” is not a justification for a program of toe amputation. Voting is a right, full stop, and people’s right to do it should not be unreasonably infringed. Six hour lines with no water is an unreasonable infringement. We don’t need to go further than that, and we certainly don’t need a privileged white dude who grew up in a Seattle suburb and moved to DC after private college to push out a “well, actually” piece about a Jim Crow revival.
In summary, cancel your subscription.