Fox News completely misrepresented an Obama campaign lawsuit to expand early voting in Ohio to claim that it disenfranchised military voters in order to gain an advantage in the election. In fact, the lawsuit in question has increased all Ohioans' opportunities to vote and did not disenfranchise anybody.
Until 2011, Ohioans could cast early votes in the days preceding an election. But that year, the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature implemented statutes that restricted early voting on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before Election Day to members of the military and their families. The Obama campaign won a lawsuit seeking to overturn the statutes that restricted early voting for non-military voters, and Fox was reporting on Ohio officials' decision to ask the Supreme Court to reverse that ruling.
Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed that, due to the court decision, "thousands of military members in Ohio may not be able to cast their vote." Carlson later speculated that the Obama campaign was purposely seeking to restrict military voting in order to gain an electoral advantage.
Fox senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano picked up the theme, saying: "I think the Obama administration is willing to use the court system to keep people who they think will vote for Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan from doing so."
Napolitano later claimed that military voters "have the weekend in which to vote. You have Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday like everybody else," but military voters have lost an "extra five days" to vote.
But none of what Carlson or Napolitano is remotely true.
Fox News and CNBC regular and "birther" conspiracy proponent Donald Trump reacted to a conservative group's unsubstantiated report that President Obama's campaign may be receiving illegal donations from foreign donors by calling him a "Foreign candidate getting foreign donations."
In fact, the report, from conservative group the Government Accountability Institute, did not assert that the Obama campaign is receiving unlawful contributions, and the group's founders have admitted that fraudulent and foreign donations are just a "concern."
From Trump's twitter feed:
Fox's Steve Doocy invented the claim that President Obama's reelection campaign may be receiving tens of millions of dollars from foreign sources in violation of federal law.
Doocy based his allegation on a claim by a Government Accountability Institute (GAI) report that 43 percent of online traffic going to the Obama campaign website came from foreign countries as well as the fact that Obama has raised more than $270 million from small donors. But Doocy's guests from the GAI acknowledged they had no evidence to back up Doocy's claim.
Interviewing GAI co-founders and conservative activists Stephen Bannon and Peter Schweizer, Doocy said: If your number is accurate, and it's 43 percent comes from international, we're talking tens of millions of dollars." But Bannon immediately responded that he was not saying that 43 percent of Obama's donations come from foreign sources.
Indeed, the Government Accountability Institute report states Americans living abroad and foreign nationals interested in the president certainly make up part of the international traffic to Obama's campaign website:
The main campaign website BarackObama.com receives approximately 43% of its traffic from foreign IP addresses, according to Markosweb.com. Though Americans living abroad no doubt generate some of this interest, the majority is likely from foreign nationals. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with the President's international attention, his donation pages' lack of CVV means that this interest creates significant vulnerabilities for the integrity of the campaign's donation process.
Bill O'Reilly and Fox News legal analysts Kimberly Guilfoyle and Lis Wiehl dismissed and mischaracterized a lawsuit alleging that a citizenship question on certain Michigan ballot applications illegally burdens the right to vote. But the "citizenship checkbox" may keep citizens from voting, as the state's Republican Governor anticipated when he vetoed an earlier attempt to implement the practice.
The ACLU of Michigan has filed a lawsuit accusing Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (R) of once again violating state and federal law by including a checkbox to re-determine a voter's citizenship on absentee and election-day ballot applications. Although supporters defend the practice as a means to prevent noncitizens from voting, election experts have pointed out redundant citizenship verification is a solution to an almost non-existent problem, contrary to the claims of Johnson and Fox's Guilfoyle.
O'Reilly characterized the ACLU lawsuit seeking to eliminate the citizenship checkbox as "madness and stupidity," and threatened that if a "crazy judge" granted the injunction, he would "put the judge's face on the screen and then send [Fox's Jesse] Watters out to see him." Fox's legal analysts not only agreed with O'Reilly's evaluation of the facts and law, but also his unsupported allegation regarding the motive behind the lawsuit:
What the ACLU wants is they don't want people committing perjury when they register. They do want people voting, who are not American citizens, to advance. They believe that most of those people would vote for the Democratic candidate in Michigan. That's exactly what's going on here.
No one acknowledged the actual arguments behind the lawsuit, namely that including a checkbox for citizenship affirmation on these ballot applications violates state and federal law and suppressed voters in Michigan's most recent primary election. It was this concern that led Governor Rick Snyder (R) to veto the proposed citizenship checkbox law in July. In his veto message, Snyder, a conservative Republican, stated the citizenship question could impermissibly "create voter confusion."
Voting by noncitizens is not a problem nationally or in Michigan. Indeed, according to the authoritative and exhaustive News21 study of thousands of alleged instances of voter fraud in the U.S., voter fraud such as noncitizen voting is "virtually non-existent." With respect to Michigan, an analysis by Wayne State University Law Professor Jocelyn Benson of the Michigan Center for Election Law demonstrates that:
[Secretary of State] Johnson has irresponsibly declared that 4,000 noncitizens vote in Michigan's elections, falsely claiming that the federal government is forcing her employees to register ineligible voters.
Her data is incomplete and unverified. The 4,000 number is no more than a general estimate of how many of Michigan's 7.5 million registered voters are not citizens.
In reality, she claims to have discovered 54 noncitizens who may have voted in Michigan's elections in the past decade, and as many as 900 others who are registered but have not voted. Yet the secretary of state is able to provide details on only two noncitizens who have recently voted. That's a far cry from 4,000.
State efforts, such as Michigan's, duplicate federal law that already prohibits and punishes ineligible voting and place excessive burdens on eligible voters. A recent Advancement Project report indicates that the Latino vote in particular is susceptible to the low turnout caused by redundant citizenship screens. According to the Michigan Election Coalition, this sort of unconstitutional burden was precisely what occurred during the 2012 Michigan primary election when poll workers across the state gave contradictory and erroneous instructions to eligible voters about the voluntary nature of the checkbox. It was this inconsistent treatment of voters across the state that led the ACLU to challenge the checkbox as a violation of the federal equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, not the due process clause as Fox's Wiehl incorrectly stated.
Furthermore, Johnson may not even have the power to place the citizenship question on the ballot. The state legislature originally tried to pass the election change in a bill, and Michigan law does not appear to allow the Secretary to unilaterally adopt this failed legislation. Even if it did, there does not appear any justification for the Secretary to then ignore the standard administrative notice and comment procedure behind the introduction of new state rules. Finally, the Secretary appears to have passed an election practice change statewide, despite the fact that the federal Voting Rights Act -- in order to prevent illegal racial or national origin discrimination -- requires certain townships in Michigan to pre-clear any such changes with the U.S. Department of Justice before they are put into effect.
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:
Loading the player reg...
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:
Loading the player reg...
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:
Loading the player reg...
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.