Fox Helps Rewrite History Of Texas Voter ID Law

Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Fox is promoting the falsehood that the Justice Department concluded that Texas' voter ID law was discriminatory and blocked the law based solely on the research of "a liberal group that promotes progressive ideas." In fact, DOJ stated that the law was discriminatory based on data compiled by the state of Texas itself.

Fox News is now promoting the falsehood that the Justice Department concluded that Texas' voter ID law was discriminatory and blocked the law based solely on the research of "a liberal group that promotes progressive ideas." In fact, as FoxNews.com itself has reported, DOJ stated that the law was discriminatory based on data compiled by the state of Texas itself, and only later submitted a paper by a Harvard political science professor who used data from an award-winning political data firm to bolster their case.

That later report found that nearly two million Texas residents who are registered to vote lack state IDs and thus could be barred from voting under the state's new voter ID statute, and that minorities are more likely to be members of that group.

Fox's coverage is in step with their consistent, often fact-free promotion of voter ID laws in Texas and elsewhere and their assault on the administration's criticism of those laws.

During an interview on the July 6 edition of Fox & Friends, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) had this exchange with guest host Dave Briggs:

BRIGGS: Congressman, tell us what the problem is with the particular firm the Department of Justice hired. 

POE: Well the Department of Justice is, with all their battery of lawyers and investigators, they can't find any evidence to support their lawsuit against Texas -- allegedly discriminating, so they go to an outside group, it is a partisan group, it is a liberal group that promotes progressive ideas and they're trying to get information, evidence if we can use that phrase, in this case to use against Texas in the lawsuit. They're not objective. And so they have already got their mind made up. And we're not sure if the facts or the evidence that they're presenting have any credibility at all. 

At no point in the segment did the hosts dispute Poe's claim that DOJ had based their statement that the Texas voter ID law is discriminatory solely on data provided by Catalist, the "liberal group" to which Poe referred. But a July 5 FoxNews.com article pointed out that Catalist's data was used by Harvard's Stephen Ansolabehere for a report DOJ submitted to "bolster" the case the administration had already made using "the state's own data":

According to [Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Tom] Perez's letter, the Justice Department based its decision to block the law on "the state's own data" -- data handed over by Texas months earlier after the department requested more information. But hoping to bolster its upcoming case in court, the Justice Department recently submitted a report from Harvard University political science professor Stephen Ansolabehere - who used the Washington-based firm Catalist for information.

Indeed, in his March 12 letter blocking the Texas voter ID law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Perez explained that the decision had been made based on "two sets of registered-voter data" provided by the state "which were matched with two different data sources maintained by the state's Department of Public Safety." DOJ's analysis concluded that "a Hispanic voter is 46.5 percent more likely than a non-Hispanic voter to lack these forms of identification," and thus declined to pre-clear the law citing its discriminatory effect.

FoxNews.com describes Ansolabehere's report as follows:

In his report, Ansolabehere determined that of registered voters in Texas, 11 percent of those without a state ID are white, 18 percent are Hispanic, and 21 percent are black. He came to that conclusion by first matching voter registration lists with names of those registered for a driver's license or firearms license. He found that 1.9 million people are registered to vote but don't have those state IDs, so he then turned to Catalist to determine the likely races of those 1.9 million people.

"The voter identification requirement will affect Whites and Minorities differently, and the difference is substantial," Ansolabehere wrote.

Ansolabehere has testified that he chose to use Catalist to determine the races of those registered to vote but lacking state IDs because the firm has won awards in the field of using computer algorithms to determine the race of individuals based on their names, the method used for the report. Indeed, FoxNews.com reported that an aide to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who objected to the report's use of Catalist data, acknowledged that their data "is 'more in-depth' and 'more refined' than what the Justice Department was likely looking at when it first objected to the voter ID law."

Posted In
Racial Justice, Voting Rights & Issues, Justice & Civil Liberties
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Dave Briggs
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends
Stories/Interests
Voter Fraud and Suppression
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