NewsMax accused Dems of trying to steal election; Limbaugh, Novak have also advanced the theme

››› ››› TERRY KREPEL

Articles recently published by the conservative website NewsMax.com have promoted a theme touted by some conservatives in recent months: that Democrats are conspiring to steal the presidential election this November. But the only evidence NewsMax cited are voter mobilization efforts that are perfectly legal.

On October 4, subscribers to NewsMax.com's email-only "Insider Report" received an article that claimed: "Democrats and their supporters may be laying the groundwork for a massive effort to 'steal' the election come Election Day." As its sole source to back up this claim, NewsMax cited an October 4 New York Times article about a surge in new voter registrations, which made no mention of fraud. The NewsMax article stated: "Republican strategists tell NewsMax that by increasing voter registrations in inner city and heavily Democratic areas, there is an increased worry that multiple voting schemes will take place on Election Day." But the article contained no evidence to support that allegation.

While the article stated that "[t]here is no evidence that any of these groups registering new voters are doing anything illegal -- or planning to do so" (though this was not mentioned until paragraph 23 of the 27-paragraph article), previous NewsMax articles have used similar evidence to make similar allegations -- without noting that the activities they describe are fully legal.

Another email-only "Insider Report" article, published September 28 and headlined "Democrats May Steal Election as Voter Registration Grows," claimed that Democrats plan to win the presidential election "[p]erhaps by the old fashioned way: stealing the election." It cited "voter turnout" efforts operated by "the 527 groups supporting [Senator John] Kerry, and backed by the likes of billionaire George Soros." But NewsMax.com provided no evidence as to how completely legal efforts to get voters to the polls -- efforts that conservative 527 groups are also involved in -- translates into the serious accusation of "election theft."

That same day, another NewsMax article, this one headlined "Democrats Preparing to Steal Iowa Too?" claimed that "an unprecedented $300 million 'get out the vote' effort to defeat President Bush" is "laying the groundwork for massive vote fraud on Election Day." The only pieces of evidence the article provided were a statement that "the Democrats are preparing to snag that state through 'voter efforts'" and a note that "roughly three times as many Democrats as Republicans" have requested absentee ballots. It is completely legal for voters to request absentee ballots.

In recent months, MMFA has documented two conservative pundits advancing the Democrats-steal-elections theme:

Radio host Rush Limbaugh:

When I grew up, I mean -- I -- I thought once you were a felon, you lost your voting rights forever. It's only recently, when the Democrats noticed their shrinking dominance, needing every vote they could get, they started importing Haitians the day before elections, remember that in 2000? A Haitian boat that went -- went aground down there in Florida?

They started importing Haitians the day before elections, and now -- and now -- and now the -- they got to go out and scour the country for felons. Is it not enough that they're registering dead people in Ohio and Illinois? Is it not enough?

[...]

The unlikely voter is the fraudulent voter, the -- but -- so they -- if -- if you -- if you add in all the potential fraud that the Democrats may be gearing up in this election, and you look at -- we've already got evidence in Ohio. They had two stories last week about the -- they're registering people that have been dead for 25 years. [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/27]

CNN Crossfire co-host and Capital Gang panelist Robert D. Novak:

NOVAK: I think there are plans under way by the Democrats to try to steal this election --

[laughter]

NOVAK: -- in Florida. No, I think they are, and I have some -- some factual material which will come out in --

MARGARET CARLSON (panelist): Oh, sure.

NOVAK: -- in due -- in due course because the plans are being laid, have been laid for four years. [CNN's The Capital Gang, 7/5]

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2004 Elections
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