During a Fox segment today about an investigation into thousands of Florida residents who have allegedly registered to vote, even though they're not U.S. citizens, anchor Bill Hemmer referred to voter ID laws that, in this case, would not address the problem. Discussing the story with guest Hans Von Spakovsky, a Pajamas Media blogger and former DOJ Civil Rights Division official who has pushed for adopting these laws, Hemmer asked:
HEMMER: But, here are what the critics are saying: The minority and the college students, those are the people you are after. You're trying to affect the outcome of an election, whether it's on the county level, or the state level, or ultimately what we saw in 2000, on the national level. How do you respond to that charge?
Fox even aired this voter ID law fact during the segment:
However, as the Miami Herald reported, the problem here has to do with the fact that legal residents, non-citizens who have photo IDs -- including driver's licenses -- appear to have registered to vote:
Nearly 2,700 potential non-U.S. citizens are registered to vote in Florida and some could have been unlawfully casting ballots for years, according to a Miami Herald-CBS4 analysis of elections data.
The bulk of the potential non-citizen voters are in Florida's largest county, Miami-Dade, where the elections supervisor is combing through a list of nearly 2,000 names and contacting them.
An analysis of a partial list of 350 names showed that about 104 have cast ballots going as far back as 1996.
Even if voters are on the list, it doesn't mean they're not eligible to cast a ballot.
The Herald added:
Consider the case of Miami's Maria Ginorio, a 64-year-old from Cuba, who said she became a U.S. citizen in August 2009. She said she was angered by a letter she received asking her to go to the elections office to document her status. Ginorio, who said she typically votes by absentee ballot, is ill and homebound.
"I'm not going to do anything about this,'' Ginorio said. "I can't. I guess I won't vote anymore. I say this with pain in my heart, because voting is my right as a citizen.''
Citizens like Ginorio were flagged as potential ineligible voters after the state's Division of Elections compared its database with a database maintained by Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which records whether a new driver is a U.S. citizen when he or she gets a license.
As a result, some citizens could appear to be non citizens now because the DHSMV computer system doesn't automatically update when someone becomes a citizen, said Chris Cate, a spokesman with the Florida Division of Elections.
In reply to Hemmer, Von Spakovsky stated:
VON SPAKOVSKY: That's just foolish. It is against federal law and it's against state law in every state for you to vote if you're not a US citizen. What are these critics saying? That they think people who are in the United States and aren't citizens should be able to vote in the upcoming election? That is just something that Americans do not agree with, and rightfully so.
Hemmer was referring to the criticism that voter ID laws disproportionally disenfranchise minorities, the elderly, and the poor. These laws are aimed at stopping voter fraud by requiring citizens to present a photo ID before casting a ballot. Von Spakovsky, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, is a vocal proponent of these laws, and is frequently invited in the media to tout their attributes, even though he, himself, has acknowledged that there is no "massive fraud in American elections."
But in Florida's case, the non-citizens at issue already possess lawfully government-issued IDs, so voter ID laws would have zero effect at addressing this alleged problem.
Fox News has a long history of promoting voter ID laws without reporting that 1) voter impersonation cases are rare and 2) voter ID laws can disenfranchise poor people, racial minorities, and the elderly. Here's one recent case, as reported by Think Progress:
The first time Viviette Applewhite went to the polls, she cast her vote for John F. Kennedy. But this year, a strict new voter identification law will likely prevent the now-93-year old woman and many others in Pennsylvania from participating in their country's democratic process. And Applewhite won't stand for it.
She will be the plaintiff in the voter identification lawsuit being filed by the ACLU and the NAACP in the state, which claims that "the state's voter photo ID law violates the Pennsylvania Constitution by depriving citizens of their most fundamental constitutional right -- the right to vote."
Applewhite no longer has a copy of her birth certificate, and she does not have a drivers' license. Without either of these things, the new Pennsylvania restrictions say that she is ineligible to vote.
But her circumstances are not at all uncommon. African Americans, especially elderly African Americans, are disproportionately less likely to have a birth certificate.