Fox News ignored critical facts on voter fraud while covering today's decision from a Pennsylvania judge to postpone enforcement of the state's new voter ID law until after the November election. In discussing the judge's decision, Fox News neglected to mention that the type of voter fraud Pennsylvania's law targets is so rare, it's almost nonexistent.
Fox's America Live guest host Alisyn Camerota introduced a segment on the decision by claiming it has upset conservatives who "are calling it, quote, a victory for voter fraud." Fox News contributor Eric Shawn reported on the ruling:
But Shawn failed to point out that voter fraud at the polls, the specific type of fraud that voter ID is intended to address, is almost nonexistent. In fact, as a result of lawsuits challenging the voter ID law, Pennsylvania was forced to acknowledge that it could not identify any cases of in-person voter fraud, nor could it point to any investigations or prosecutions of voter fraud:
1. There have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have any personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states;
2. The parties are not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and do not have direct personal knowledge of in person voter fraud elsewhere.
Shawn also failed to mention another reason why opponents to Pennsylvania's law were concerned about its implementation. In June, a PoliticsPA blog post quoted Pennsylvania's GOP House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, a strong proponent of the law, claiming that the voter ID law "is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania":
"Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it's done. First pro-life legislation - abortion facility regulations - in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done."
The statement drew a loud round of applause from the audience. It also struck a nerve among critics, who called it an admission that they passed the bill to make it harder for Democrats to vote -- and not to prevent voter fraud as the legislators claimed.
Recently, a Washington Post article reported on the findings of News21, a "Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project" which "found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters." Last week, voting expert Michael McDonald told Fox News' Shepard Smith that the rarity of voter fraud is "on the order of winning the lottery." A Philadelphia Inquirer article noted that the few cases of actual voter fraud in Pennsylvania "probably wouldn't have been stopped or detected by the new photo ID requirement for all Pennsylvania voters."
The laws could, however, have a significant impact on restricting the ability of eligible voters to cast their ballots. In 2011, New York University's Brennan Center for Justice estimated that photo ID laws "could make it significantly harder for more than 5 million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012." The Philadelphia Inquirer found that in Pennsylvania alone, over 700,000 eligible voters did not have the ID the law would have required.
On September 12, the Associated Press reported on evidence from a study by Cathy Cohen of the University of Chicago and Jon Rogowski of Washington University in St. Louis which found that voter ID laws disproportionately affect minority voters. In fact, the study estimated that as a result of new ID laws nationwide, "as many as 700,000 minority voters under 30 may be unable to cast a ballot in November."