Fox pushes yet another phony voting rights story

››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

Fox News' Dave Briggs attacked the Department of Justice for asking election officials in Ohio to print ballots in Spanish, which he claimed would not be "a proper use of funds." But the Justice Department reportedly says the ballots are needed to obey federal law, which prohibits making a person educated in a Spanish-language school in Puerto Rico understand English in order to vote.

Briggs claims enforcing federal voting law is not "a proper use of funds"

Briggs: Spanish ballots are not "proper use of funds." During the August 31 edition of Fox & Friends, guest host Dave Briggs claimed that the Department of Justice "is demanding" that Cuyahoga County, Ohio, election officials "print ballots in Spanish," and said, "The cost, again, $500,000 estimated, for what some say is 6,000 voters, which does sound like not a proper use of funds." He then asked a guest, "But, beyond that, I mean, do you think this is something that is absolutely required, is necessary, in our country?"

Plain Dealer: DOJ told Cuyahoga County "it needed to better accommodate voters educated in Puerto Rico." In an August 25 blog post, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that "the Justice Department told the [Cuyahoga] elections board July 29 that it needed to better accommodate voters educated in Puerto Rico who have limited English-speaking ability. At issue is part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that requires full voting opportunity for people from Puerto Rico, which makes them full U.S. citizens, but who are educated in primarily Spanish-language schools."

Federal law prohibits making Puerto Ricans educated in Spanish-language schools understand English in order to vote. According to media reports, at issue is a provision of federal law originally enacted in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 explicitly protects the rights of Puerto Rican voters educated in U.S. schools to vote regardless of their ability to understand English:

(1) Congress hereby declares that to secure the rights under the fourteenth amendment of persons educated in American-flag schools in which the predominant classroom language was other than English, it is necessary to prohibit the States from conditioning the right to vote of such persons on ability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter in the English language.

(2) No person who demonstrates that he has successfully completed the sixth primary grade in a public school in, or a private school accredited by, any State or territory, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in which the predominant classroom language was other than English, shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his inability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter in the English language, except that in States in which State law provides that a different level of education is presumptive of literacy, he shall demonstrate that he has successfully completed an equivalent level of education in a public school in, or a private school accredited by, any State or territory, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in which the predominant classroom language was other than English.

Bush DOJ said the provision "requires jurisdictions to provide" ballots in minority languages. In September 2008 congressional testimony, Grace Chung Becker, then the acting assistant attorney general for the Bush Justice Department civil rights division, testified that the provision "requires jurisdictions to provide election materials, including ballots, in the required minority language for voters who are limited-English proficient (LEP) and who were educated in an American school in which the predominant classroom language was not English."

Briggs falsely claims English is "official language" of U.S.

Briggs: "English is the only official language of the United States." Introducing the discussion, Briggs asked, "English is the only official language of the United States, but should it be the only language on the ballot this November?"

FACT: U.S. does not have an official language. According to the government website USA.gov, "Congress has never declared an 'official' language for the United States." Likewise, MSNBC.com reported in 2009, "The United States has no official language."

In attacking DOJ, Briggs dredged up discredited attacks

Briggs: DOJ is "accused of stalling on the MOVE Act, which denies our troops the rights to vote." In the same segment, Briggs said the Justice Department was "accused of stalling on the MOVE Act, which denies our troops the rights to vote." Briggs' claim echoed the discredited attacks from conservative activists that the Justice Department was "ignoring" the act by "encouraging waivers."

FACT: The waiver process is built into the MOVE Act. The MOVE Act, which helps to ensure that troops overseas can exercise their right to vote, contained a provision that permitted states that would have an "undue hardship" in providing ballots 45 days before an election to apply for a waiver, which the Department of Defense must approve.

Briggs: DOJ "ignored" phony New Black Panther scandal because it has "not pressed charges." In the same segment, Briggs claimed that the Justice Department has "not pressed charges against the Black Panthers who clearly committed voter intimidation. So why choose this case to make such a big deal of when others are ignored?"

FACT: DOJ did press charges in the New Black Panther case. The DOJ successfully obtained default judgment against King Samir Shabazz, a member of the New Black Panther Party carrying a nightstick outside a Philadelphia polling center on Election Day 2008.

Story is another in a string of discredited, Fox-promoted attacks against DOJ

Fox News has hyped phony New Black Panthers scandal at least 95 times. On July 16, Media Matters for America reported that over the course of two weeks, six Fox News shows discussed the discredited New Black Panthers scandal during a total of 95 segments after Megyn Kelly's June 30 interview hyping GOP activist J. Christian Adams' unsubstantiated accusations. In all, these Fox shows devoted more than eight hours of airtime to discussing the New Black Panthers.

Fox News also pushing Adams' false claim that DOJ is "ignoring" military law. Fox News also heavily promoted the baseless "controversy" that the DOJ is attempting to ignore the MOVE Act in order to help Democrats "skew" the fall elections.

Posted In
Elections, Voting Rights & Issues, Government, Cabinet & Agencies
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Dave Briggs
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends
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