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.
When DMV director Schwedo originally testified, he made clear that the discrepancy could be explained by voters casting absentee ballots before their deaths or by data errors. Indeed, such deceased voter claims are almost always revealed as unfounded for those very reasons. But these facts never made their way to Fox, which has a long history of trumping up voter fraud allegations and pushing voter ID requirements as the only possible solution.
Hutchins further reported of Election Commission director Marci Andino's testimony:
"Characterizing this as an established fact threatens our confidence" in the election process, she said. "This is not a question that needs to linger in the minds of voters ... the truth is out there."
The truth is out there, but as of yet it isn't on Fox News. It remains to be seen whether Fox will report that their latest voter fraud fabrication has fallen apart, or simply move on to the next one.