The Spectacle Blog

Borrowing Space for a Correction on Military Voting

By on 11.12.10 | 3:24PM

I apologize for taking Spectator space for something the Spectator had nothing to do with, but this is the best outlet I have for a correction for an inadvertent slip of the tongue made not in the pages of the Washington Times (which is why it is not appropriate for the Wash Times to run this correction in its pages), but under my own auspices while doing a TV appearance. To be clear, I am using AmSpec space, but this is NOT an AmSpec responsibility in any way, shape or form:

On Oct. 28 I made an appearance on Fox News to talk about the Washington Times' ongoing and accurate reporting on problems in certain states with compliance with a new law that is meant to guarantee voting rights for overseas military personnel. In the first editorial on the subject, the Washington Times had noted that the Justice Department seemed more enthusiastic about helping ex-felons vote than helping the military vote.  My accurate catch-line for this, developed in writings and media apeparances over subsequent months, had become “Felons vote, soldier's don't.” (Accurate, that is, with the proviso that technically I was talking about what some would call "EX-felons.")

When I repeated this line at the beginning of a larger segment on Illinois' problems with the military voting law, I misspoke. In Cook County, Illinois, it is not “felons” but not-yet-convicted inmates who are, quite legally, voting. And Cook County, unlike in 35 other Illinois counties that had failed to mail overseas military ballots on time, was indeed in full compliance with the military voting law. As I tried to pivot the story to the broader (and entirely relevant) issue of the Justice Department's enforcement, I repeated an earlier “Cook County” reference and the by-now familiar catch-phrase I had been using, before I moved on to the Justice Department subject I was ready to talk about.

If I had said that in Illinois, “inmates vote, soldier's don't,” it would have been accurate. About Cook County specifically, the statement was not accurate. I talked yesterday with spokesman Jim Allen of the Chicago Board of Elections, and found out that this slip of the tongue had caused the board a lot of grief. I apologize. The inadvertent error was mine, not Fox's. And the Washington Times reporting on which my appearances were based have also been entirely accurate. My verbal short-hand, though, was incorrect. The Chicago Board of Elections sent ballots to overseas military in an entirely timely fashion.

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