FOX's Hannity falsely accused Dems of voter fraudNovember 2, 2004 4:39 PM EST ››› ANDREW SEIFTER
One day before the presidential election, FOX News Channel host Sean Hannity falsely suggested Democrats were guilty of voter fraud in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Hannity on Ohio
On the November 1 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, Hannity claimed that it is "necessary" for observers to monitor the presidential election in Ohio because "for example, in Franklin County [Ohio], there were more people registered than there were actual adults in the exact county." But, contrary to Hannity's suggestion, that is not a result of voter fraud.
As The Columbus Dispatch noted on October 1, citing county Board of Elections director Matthew Damschroder, the discrepancy was a result of "motor voter" -- the 1993 National Voter Registration Act that "made it easier for Americans to register to vote ... [but] also made it more difficult for elections officials to purge their lists of those who don't follow through and cast ballots." Therefore, many voters who have moved away from Franklin County are still likely registered to vote there. Media Matters for America has noted a similar discrepancy as a result of "motor voter" in Philadelphia.
Hannity remarked that "Republican officials brought challenges last week to 35,000 voters, and letters sent to them were undeliverable. So you have some real voting fraud concerns in Ohio and elsewhere."
But as The New York Times reported on October 29, "About 12,000 of the [35,000] challenges have been dismissed or withdrawn" by the Republicans, lending credence to Democrats' claim that "most challenges were against legal voters, including some in the military." And the Columbus Dispatch noted on October 30 that of the 23,000 remaining challenges, "[a] three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied GOP requests to block a lower-court ruling that said county boards of elections could not hold hearings on those challenges. Republicans said they would not appeal."
Hannity on Florida
Hannity echoed a questionable Republican claim that "925 felons in prison" in Florida "voted illegally."
The November 1 edition of The New York Times also reported this Republican accusation without making any apparent effort to verify it, as MMFA noted. But the St. Petersburg Times reported on October 29 that the claim was based on "two controversial and flawed state databases" that had been rejected by the state's Republican secretary of state, Glenda Hood. In addition, the St. Petersburg Times noted that a preliminary investigation by its reporters "quickly found" two people on the list who were, in fact, eligible to vote.
Hannity on Pennsylvania
Immediately following his claim that 925 felons were allowed to illegally vote in Florida, Hannity drew attention to Republican concerns about voter fraud in Pennsylvania that had already been dismissed by a federal judge: "I know that [U.S. Representative] Curt Weldon [R-PA] was very upset, because [Governor] Ed Rendell [D-PA] sent out a nine-page document to all the prison wardens across the state telling them that they had to post a document in every cell block to allow their prisoners to vote by absentee ballot."
But, as The Express-Times (Easton, PA) reported on November 2, Rendell's actions were an "effort to ensure prisoners who are eligible to vote have the opportunity to do so." And The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on November 2 that "a federal judge refused an emergency request" from Weldon and Pennsylvania state Representative Stephen Barrar "to impound any absentee ballots received from prison inmates."