Fox News is now mischaracterizing a court ruling requiring the state of Ohio to allow in-person early voting during the last three days before the election as unfair to members of the military.
On Friday a federal court adopted an injunction preventing Ohio election officials from implementing new restrictions on in-person early voting. The ruling came in response to an Obama campaign lawsuit that sought to overturn a 2011 statute that halted early voting access in the three days leading up to the election except for members of the military and their families. The Obama campaign sought to restore access to the polls for all Ohio residents during that period.
The court agreed, finding that allowing both military and non-military citizens to equally participate in early voting "places all Ohio voters on equal standing." Indeed, the ruling has no impact on military voters and their families, but simply provides all other Ohioans with the same access to the polls they were scheduled to enjoy.
But during the September 3 edition of America Live, Fox News host Megyn Kelly and Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund portrayed the ruling as an insult to the military and an "obstacle" to their access to the polls.
FUND: So what Ohio said is for the last three days before the election we will let military voters vote, but everyone else will have to vote before the three day period. The district judge said, "That's unfair," and said, "You'll have to extend early voting right up until Election Day." It now goes to a federal appeals court. And I think it's pretty clear that the military vote can have a separate designation and can be treated separately because they are different from every average voter.
KELLY: Yeah, they are special. And this was an interesting case we talked about it prior to the ruling because it pitted the Obama administration against military families and voters.
FUND: The National Guard [Association], the Marine Corps Association, all of them said, "This is outrageous what you are trying to do."
KELLY: They said, "There is a justification for treating us differently. And it's not -- you don't get to say that everybody is the same as the military."
FUND: We have enough obstacles in the way of our military now we don't need to create others.
Fund -- who also lambasted early voting in general as "out of control" -- is the latest right-wing figure to invoke the canard that allowing civilians equal access to the polls somehow constitutes an "obstacle" for members of the military who wish to vote.
Washington Post columnist George Will misrepresented the effects of the Voting Rights Act to claim that it has given "a few government-approved minorities ... an entitlement to public offices." In fact, the Voting Rights Act has made great strides towards correcting the nation's shameful history of discrimination against minority voters, but minorities are still under-represented in Congress.
In his Post column on Wednesday, Will wrote:
In Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic" -- a book more measured and scholarly than its overwrought title -- Jay Cost of the Weekly Standard says that the party has succumbed to "clientelism," the process of purchasing cohorts of voters with federal favors.
In the 1960s, public-employee unions were expanded to feast from quantitative liberalism (favors measured in quantities of money). And qualitative liberalism was born as environmentalists, feminists and others got government to regulate behavior in the service of social "diversity," "meaningful" work, etc. Cost notes that with the 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act, a few government-approved minorities were given an entitlement to public offices: About 40 "majority-minority" congressional districts would henceforth be guaranteed to elect minority members.
Following amendments enacted in 1982, the Voting Rights Act requires that state voting policies do not have the purpose or effect of discriminating on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language-minority group. The law specifies that states must give members of racial and language-minority groups the opportunity "to elect representatives of their choice."
As interpreted by the courts, this means that states may not draw districts so that minorities are so spread out or so packed into a single district that they do not have a fair chance to elect representatives of their choice. This has led to the creation of "majority-minority districts," in which members of a racial, ethnic, or language minority have the ability to choose a representative.
The Voting Rights Act has successfully decreased the level of discrimination against minority groups. But minority groups are far from over-represented in Congress.
From the August 23 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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The game is up on the falsehoods about the Obama campaign's lawsuit to restore early voting in Ohio, but that hasn't deterred Sean Hannity from lying about it.
On August 6, PolitiFact Ohio gave a rating of "false" to Mitt Romney's statement that the Obama lawsuit is challenging voting privileges for the military. Nevertheless, the same night, Hannity used his Fox News show to pound home the falsehood.
Hannity teased his report by saying that Romney is hitting Obama over a lawsuit to "limit the number of days armed service members can vote" -- a statement that is in no way true.
Ohio changed its early-voting rules after problems there during the 2004 election prevented thousands of people from casting their ballots. The state responded by expanding early voting for the 2008 and 2010 elections.
But last year, the Republican-controlled legislature eliminated in-person voting during the three days before the election for everyone but military families and overseas voters. The Obama campaign lawsuit explicitly states what it is asking for: "Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to restore in-person early voting for all Ohioans during the three days prior to Election Day."
From the August 6 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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On the eve of the 47th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer relied on notorious voter fraud huckster Hans von Spakovsky and other dubious sources to continue to distort the debate over voter ID laws. Specifically, Von Spakovsky argued that voter ID laws do not affect minority turnout and suggested that, in fact, the opposite is true. From the article:
Von Spakofsky [sic], a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, says voting in both Georgia and Indiana increased dramatically in the states' presidential primaries and general presidential elections after photo ID laws went into place.
"In Indiana, which the U.S. Supreme Court said has the strictest voter ID law in the country, turnout in the Democratic presidential primary in 2008 quadrupled from the 2004 election when the photo ID law was not in effect," von Spakofsky last year told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "According to Census Bureau surveys, 59.2 percent of the black voting-age population voted in the 2008 election compared to only 53.8 percent in 2004, an increase of over 5 percentage points."
In reality, as Colorlines.com has reported, such a conclusion cannot be drawn:
Von Spakovsky noted that "Georgia had the largest turnout of minority voters in its history," and then drew the conclusion, "As shown by these data ... voter ID requirements can be easily met by almost all voters and do not have a discriminatory or disparate impact on racial minorities." The message sent: Georgia 2008 voter turnout was good; therefore voter ID laws are good.
These are specious conclusions to draw at best because it relies on a non-existent causation or correlation between the implementation of the state's voter ID law and voter turnout without controlling for other factors such as the growth in voting age population and the growth in the number of people registered to vote during the same period.
I spoke with Charles S. Bullock III, the Richard B. Russell Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia who said that the state's voter ID law "is not a cause" for the increase in minority voter turnout and "that you can't build a case for a causal link" between the implementation of the voter ID law and the increase in minority voter turnout. In fact, voter turnout would have increased in Georgia in the 2008 presidential election with or without the voter ID law for a number of other factors, says Lubbock, including a "gradual increase" in the voting-age population of African Americans, and also the excitement around the possible election of the nation's first black president. But this does not mean that everyone was able to "easily" get an ID card. [...]
The Increase in Georgia's minority voter turnout was due to large increases in voter registration and the excitement around the Obama campaign, despite the voter ID law, but not because of it.
Special Report guest host Shannon Bream falsely claimed that the Obama campaign is suing to prevent military voters in Ohio from having extra time to cast their ballots. In reality, the lawsuit seeks to allow all voters in Ohio to cast their ballots during the window open to military personnel and their families. The lawsuit does not seek to restrict voting by military families in any way.
Correspondent Ed Henry followed with a misleading report that included a clip of Mitt Romney saying that it would be a disservice to members of the military to try to impede them from voting. But Henry did not cite any evidence that the lawsuit is intended to impede military voting.
As The Cincinnati Enquirer reported on July 18, "Now, only uniformed military personnel, their spouses and their voting-age dependents [in Ohio] can vote through Monday, the day before the Nov. 6 election. Everyone else must vote by the Friday before Election Day. The campaign says that means all Ohio voters aren't being treated fairly and that's a violation of the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause" (via Nexis).
From the August 3 edition of Special Report:
From the July 12 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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Right-wing media have attacked the Department of Justice's decision to send personnel to Milwaukee to monitor the Wisconsin recall election for violations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But Congress authorized DOJ to monitor elections for violations of citizens' voting rights, and the Bush administration DOJ often exercised this power.
For the past few months, just as many states across the country are passing voter ID laws, the Wall Street Journal has steadily denied that these laws disproportionally affect minority, as well as elderly, voters. Never mind that according to New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, upwards of 5 million voters -- mainly racial minorities, students, and seniors -- would be impacted by these laws.
But the Journal, along with other conservative media, continue to champion them. In articles and editorials, the Journal has made a habit of attacking Attorney General Eric Holder and his Justice Department for blocking these laws from being implemented in several states, claiming that Holder is "scaremongering" and playing "identity politics." In yet another editorial, the Journal wrote of Holder: "It would take a distinctive kind of naivete to believe there is no voter fraud in America." It also accused DOJ's civil rights division of "massag[ing] the data" so "it can charge bias" in blocking Texas' voter ID law.
Today, the conservative paper continued the trend, alleging that Holder and President Obama are using their "political power" to scare African-American voters. According to the Journal, Holder and Obama's voting rights concerns are nothing more than "racial incitement" and part of a "strategy" to re-elect Obama, adding: "And liberals think Donald Trump's birther fantasies are offensive?" The editorial continued:
For all of Mr. Obama's attempts to portray Mitt Romney as out of touch, no one has suffered more in the Obama economy than minorities.
Which explains Mr. Holder's racial incitement strategy. If Mr. Obama is going to win those swing states again, he needs another burst of minority turnout. If hope won't get them to vote for Mr. Obama again, then how about fear?
The editorial went on to assert that a speech to black leaders at a summit of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Conference of National Black Churches about the importance of voting and the significance of new voter ID laws was Holder "using his considerable power to inflame racial antagonism":
Fox News continued its relentless advocacy of disenfranchising voter ID laws this morning, as Fox & Friends' Gretchen Carlson hosted Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of the Tea Party-affiliated organization True the Vote, to trump up voter fraud claims and tout voter ID laws.
During the segment, Engelbrecht said that "we absolutely agree that photo voter ID would help improve the overall integrity and accuracy of the process" and suggested that voter fraud was a rampant problem undermining "free and fair elections." And Carlson even prompted Engelbrecht to tell viewers how they could get involved, leading Engelbrecht to tell potential volunteers to check out the group's website. Watch:
But contrary to the claim that voter ID laws would "improve the overall integrity" of the voting process, NYU's Brennan Center for Justice has found that more than 3 million voters across the country do not possess photo IDs required by newly passed voter ID laws.
For example, as the Los Angeles Times reported in May 2008, elderly nuns and college students "were turned away from polls" after Indiana's voter ID law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. In January 2008, The New York Times reported that more than 30 eligible voters in a single Indiana county had their votes thrown out because of the law.
The conservative hosts of Fox News' The Five acted horrified at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's statement that she wants to "amend the Constitution" to reverse the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, a decision that Pelosi said "flies in the face of our founders' vision." The Fox hosts acted as if this was a radical idea, but Fox hosts and congressional Republicans have repeatedly proposed amending the Constitution.
Fox News and Fox Business have leaped to the defense of Texas' voter ID law after the Justice Department moved to prevent its implementation, saying that the legislation violated the Voting Rights Act. Fox's coverage has been filled with false and misleading claims.
Apparently, this is now a point that must be made: You have a constitutional right not to be denied from voting on the basis of race. You do not have a constitutional right to go to R-rated movies, buy alcohol, or purchase Sudafed.
Some of the slower members of the right-wing media have been having trouble with this distinction as it pertains to laws requiring Americans to provide photo identification at the polling place in order to vote. The Justice Department recently struck down such statutes in South Carolina and Texas, saying that the jurisdictions had failed to demonstrate that the laws would not discriminate against and disenfranchise minority voters.
This morning on Fox & Friends, while disparaging DOJ's decision to block Texas' voter I.D. law, co-host Gretchen Carlson said:
[L]et's just take a look at a simple list of what we're required to show I.D. for in general society. To buy cigarettes and alcohol. To purchase an R-rated movie ticket. To even buy Sudafed now. To rent a car, to get a hotel room, and I could go on and on, Mr. Adams, even to get a beach pass in my community, you have to show several forms of I.D.
During the segment, Fox aired this graphic:
Likewise, the James O'Keefe clown show apparently went to Vermont recently, where they attempted to demonstrate why the state should have a voter I.D. law by haranguing bartenders and hotel employees over their "racist" demands that the conservative activists present identification before obtaining drinks or hotel rooms.
But don't take my word that this is a "silly," "flimsy," and "constitutionally incorrect" comparison. Just ask noted GOP hack and New Black Panther fabulist J. Christian Adams.
Over the last two weeks, Fox has repeatedly promoted the claim that voter fraud is indicated by records showing that more than 900 South Carolina residents were recorded as casting a vote after their reported death date. Lou Dobbs, Bill Hemmer, and Neil Cavuto all gave state Attorney General Alan Wilson a platform to offer up this assertion, and on Monday Bret Baier reported that Wilson had notified the Justice Department of this "potential voter fraud."
These claims were always shaky, and have now completely dissolved.
On January 11, state Department of Motor Vehicles director Kevin Schwedo testified before the state legislature that his analysts had compared state Election Commission records with data from the Department of Vital Statistics and the Social Security Administration and found 957 people who could have voted after they had died. He subsequently turned the data over to law enforcement.
But the Columbia Free-Times' Corey Hutchins reports that the Election Commission has examined six names from the list -- the only six names Wilson's office had turned over. At a hearing this morning, the agency revealed that none of those cases involved a ballot actually being cast in a deceased person's name:
In a news release election agency spokesman Chris Whitmire handed out prior to the hearing, the agency disputed the claim that dead people had voted. One allegedly dead voter on the DMV's list cast an absentee ballot before dying; another was the result of a poll worker mistakenly marking the voter as his deceased father; two were clerical errors resulting from stray marks on voter registration lists detected by a scanner; two others resulted from poll managers incorrectly marking the name of the voter in question instead of the voter above or below on the list.
The attorney general's office had only given the State Election Commission six names off its list of 957 names to examine. The agency found every one of them to be alive and otherwise eligible to vote, except for the one who had voted before dying.
This was entirely predictable.