Fox Spends The Day Running Defense For Likely GOP Candidates' Discriminatory Voting Laws

Fox News helped 2016 presidential candidate Rick Perry (R) and likely candidate Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) defend their state's discriminatory voting restrictions and whitewash their poor records on voting rights.

Fox Hosts Join Rick Perry, John Kasich In Dismissing Discriminatory Effects Of Texas And Ohio Voting Laws

Fox Joins Rick Perry In Whitewashing Effect Of Strict Voter ID Requirements. On the June 5 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Brian Kilmeade invited former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to discuss his recent presidential campaign announcement and to rebut comments made by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton about the need to improve voter access in the United States. Perry defended his state's onerous voter ID requirements against charges that they are discriminatory:

PERRY: I think it makes sense to have a photo ID to be able to vote. When I got on the airline yesterday to come up here, I had to show my photo ID.

[...]

HASSELBECK: But she accused you there. There's an accusation there of you being knowingly discriminatory. Are you?

PERRY: No, not at all. And actually, the people of the state of Texas is who she's taking on. Because that was a law that was passed by the people of the state of Texas. She just went into my home state and dissed every person who supports having an identification to either get on an airplane or to vote. It's highly popular.

KILMEADE: The insinuation is you don't want minorities to vote. That's the insinuation. Is that true?

PERRY: No it's not. And as a matter of fact, when you look across the state of Texas, and you see what we've done in that state to really empower minorities. [Fox News, Fox & Friends6/5/15]

Fox Helps John Kasich Praise Ohio As Leader On Voting Rights. Later, America's Newsroom hosted Ohio Governor John Kasich (R), who is considering a bid for the Republican nomination in 2016. When asked to respond to Clinton's remark that “today Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting,” Kasich claimed that it was simply “demagoguery,” while host Bill Hemmer read a statement from the Ohio secretary of state praising Ohio's voter access:

HEMMER: Hillary Clinton had words about your home state of Ohio just yesterday, and about voting and access to it. She is going to sue Ohio. This is what she said.

CLIP OF CLINTON: Today Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting.

HEMMER: What do you think about that claim?

KASICH: First of all, I think it's demagoguery. And secondly, if she wants to sue somebody, let her sue New York. In Ohio, we've got like 27 days of early voting. OK? Twenty-seven days, a couple hundred hours. In New York, the only early voting -- there is none. The only voting that occurs is on election day. What is she talking about? I like Hillary, but I have to tell you, the idea that we are going to divide Americans and use demagoguery, I don't like it. Now I haven't said a word about Hillary. But to come into the state of Ohio and say we're suppressing the vote, when New York has only one election day and we have 27 days? Come on, that's just silliness.

[...]

HEMMER: This is what your secretary of state said, on-screen now. 'It's easy to vote - period.' -- It's a Republican talking. He works with you - “with 28 days to vote and the ability to cast a ballot without ever leaving your home, Ohio voters enjoy some of the most generous voter options in the country. For this reason, and many others, our state is a national leader in voter access.' [Fox News, America's Newsroom6/5/15]

Texas' Strict Voter ID Law Was Ruled Unconstitutional By Federal Court

Federal Court Ruled Texas Voter ID Law Is Unconstitutional, Discriminates Against Hispanics And African Americans. On October 9, 2014, United States District Court judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos struck down the voter ID law signed by Perry in 2011, ruling that the law  “creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote” for Hispanic and African-American voters in the state: 

The Court holds that SB 14 creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics5 and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose. The Court further holds that SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax. [United States District Court, South District of Texas, Veasey vs. Perry10/9/14]

An Estimated 600,000 Eligible Voters In Texas Lack Identification Required To Vote. In April 2015, the Brennan Center for Justice published a three-part series documenting dozens of cases of voter disenfranchisement resulting from Texas' voter ID law. The individual voters, some of whom asked to remain anonymous, represent a cross-section of the nearly 600,000 registered voters in Texas who lack permissible documentation to vote according to the 2011 law. [Brennan Center for Justice, 4/16/154/20/154/23/15]

Ohio Republicans Have Pushed Slew Of Voting Restrictions, Including Early Voting Cuts Deemed Unconstitutional

Two Federal Courts Struck Down Ohio's 2014 Cuts To Early Voting And Same-Day Voter Registration As Discriminatory. In April, Ohio and the American Civil Liberties Union settled a long-running legal battle over Ohio Republicans' 2014 cuts to early voting days and elimination of “Golden Week,” a time during early voting that allows for same-day voter registration. Two federal courts ruled that the cuts amounted to unconstitutional discrimination against racial minorities, though the Supreme Court issued a stay on the rulings on appeal:

In February 2014, Ohio's Republican-controlled legislature passed a law that eliminated the week of same-day registration. Known as “Golden Week,” it had been established after all-day lines at the polls in 2004 made Ohio the poster child for voting problems. Soon afterward, Husted followed up by eliminating all Sunday voting, which had the effect of ending the “Souls to the Polls” drives that many black churches undertake. Husted also required that weekday voting end at 5 p.m.

In the 2012 election, 157,000 Ohioans -- disproportionately minorities -- voted on the days that were cut.

The ACLU challenged both moves in a lawsuit filed last May, alleging that the cuts violated the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against racial minorities.

[...]

The case has been through twists and turns. A federal district court judge struck down the cuts, and an appeals court upheld that ruling. But last September, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay, ensuring that the cuts were in place for last November's midterms. [MSNBC.com, 4/17/15]

And New Lawsuit Challenges Ohio's Restrictions To Poll Access, Elimination Of Same-Day Registration. A May lawsuit seeks the restoration of Ohio's “Golden week” of early voting and same-day registration, eliminated as part of Ohio's settlement with the ACLU, challenging the legislation as disproportionately burdensome on minorities and young voters:

A new federal lawsuit charges that a series of restrictive voting procedures put in place by Ohio Republicans aim to suppress the votes of minorities, students, and other Democratic-leaning groups. In response, Ohio's top election official is portraying the lawsuit as an effort by Hillary Clinton to gain an edge in a key 2016 swing state.

[...]

The suit challenges cuts to Ohio's early voting opportunities, the elimination of same-day voter registration (known in Ohio as “Golden Week” ), restrictive procedures for obtaining absentee ballots, and new rules that could lead to longer lines at the polls by reducing the number of voting machines that counties are required to have on hand. All those policies have been put in place over the last two years by Ohio's Republican administration or its Republican-controlled legislature.

Unless these changes are blocked under the Voting Rights Act, the suit warns, “hundreds of thousands of Ohioans will find it substantially more difficult to exercise” their right to vote.

In 2012, more than 90,000 Ohioans voted during Golden Week. [MSNBC.com, 5/12/15]

Ohio Republicans Are Pushing Stringent Voter ID Bill. Ohio lawmakers are currently trying to pass legislation requiring voters to present photo identification in order to vote. The Plain Dealer editorial board railed against the proposed voter ID requirement, calling it an aim “to win elections not by attracting votes, but by suppressing them.”  The Dealer explained the proposal:

Brenner's bill would instead require voters to produce a driver's license, state ID card, military ID or U.S. passport. If an Ohioan can't afford a state ID ($8.50) and his or her income doesn't exceed the federal poverty guideline ($11,770), the state would have to provide a free ID. That's far too little, given all the logistical and cost impediments to get such IDs for low-income voters, senior citizens and others who don't have driver's licenses. [The Plain Dealer5/10/15]

Strict Voter ID Laws Tackle A Virtually Non-Existent Problem

Just 31 Cases Of In-Person Voter Fraud Found In More Than 1 Billion Votes. According to a 2014 study conducted by Loyola University law professor Justin Levitt, there were only 31 credible allegations of in-person voter fraud among the more than 1 billion votes cast in “general, primary, special, and municipal elections from 2000 through 2014.” According to Levitt, in-person voter fraud is the only type of fraud voter ID laws are “designed to stop” :

Election fraud happens. But ID laws are not aimed at the fraud you'll actually hear about. Most current ID laws (Wisconsin is a rare exception) aren't designed to stop fraud with absentee ballots (indeed, laws requiring ID at the polls push more people into the absentee system, where there are plenty of real dangers). Or vote buying. Or coercion. Or fake registration forms. Or voting from the wrong address. Or ballot box stuffing by officials in on the scam. In the 243-page document that Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel filed on Monday with evidence of allegedly illegal votes in the Mississippi Republican primary, there were no allegations of the kind of fraud that ID can stop. 

Instead, requirements to show ID at the polls are designed for pretty much one thing: people showing up at the polls pretending to be somebody else in order to each cast one incremental fake ballot. This is a slow, clunky way to steal an election. Which is why it rarely happens. [The Washington Post8/7/14]

Voter Impersonation Is “More Rare Than Getting Struck By Lightning.”  According to 2007 report by the Brennan Center for Justice, instances of the type of voter impersonation that voter ID laws are designed to stop are “more rare than getting struck by lightning” :

The most common example of the harm wrought by imprecise and inflated claims of “voter fraud” is the call for in-person photo identification requirements. Such photo ID laws are effective only in preventing individuals from impersonating other voters at the polls -- an occurrence more rare than getting struck by lightning. [Brennan Center For Justice, 2007]

And Both Early Voting Restrictions And Strict Voter ID Laws Disproportionately Affect Minority Voters

Brennan Center: Early Voting Restrictions Most Heavily Disrupt Minority Voting. The Brennan Center for Justice noted that ending early voting on Sundays disproportionately restricts African American and Hispanic voters:

New restrictions on early voting will also have their biggest impact on people of color. Opponents of these restrictions have been particularly angered by the efforts to eliminate Sundayearly voting, which they see as explicitly targeting African-American voters. Florida eliminated early voting on the last Sunday before Election Day, and Ohio has eliminated early voting on Sundays entirely. There is substantial statistical and anecdotal evidence that African Americans (and to a lesser extent Hispanics) vote on Sundays in proportionately far greater numbers than whites. [Brennan Center for Justice, accessed 6/5/15]

Brennan Center: Those Who Argue That Voter ID Laws Don't Impact Turnout Need “A Simple Statistics Lesson.”  As former Brennan Center for Justice quantitative analyst Sundeep Iyer explained, any claim that voter ID laws don't affect minority turnout ignores “Statistics 101” :

Any good student of Statistics 101 will tell you that correlation does not imply causation. Apparently, many voter ID supporters never got the memo.

[...]

Bad statistical practices -- like old habits -- die hard. Supporters of voter ID requirements are at it again, this time misinterpreting a new set of election results in Georgia. In response to E.J. Dionne's Washington Post column on vote suppression efforts across the United States, Georgia's Secretary of State wrote to the Post's editors about how an increase in black turnout between 2006 and 2010 showed that voter ID laws do not suppress turnout. Hans von Spakovsky repeated the assertion on NPR and in USA Today, and Ohio House Speaker William Batchto the Post's editors about how an increase in black turnout between 2006 and 2010 showed that voter ID laws do not suppress turnout. Hans von Spakovsky repeated the assertion on NPR and in USA Today, and Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder picked up the same message in defending Ohio's proposed voter ID requirement. Citing the Georgia statistics in a see-this-couldn't-be-that-bad sort of way has become a central talking point among proponents of voter ID laws.

Once again, these proponents have mistaken simple correlation for causation. You don't need to be a statistician to know that without controlling for other factors that might influence turnout, the assertion that Georgia's voter ID requirement didn't depress turnout is meaningless -- at best unscientific, at worst just plain wrong. [Brennan Center For Justice, 7/6/11]

Voter ID Laws Disproportionately Impact Young, Minority Voters. According to a 2013 study by political scientists Cathy J. Cohen and Jon C. Rogowski, strict voter ID laws disproportionately impact young, minority voters. The study found that black and Hispanic voters were more likely than whites to be asked to present photo ID at their polling place, even in states that do not enforce voter ID laws. The study also revealed that minority youths citied “the concept of a required ID” as “a primary reason they didn't go to the polls” during previous elections. [Politico, 3/12/13]

Fox News Has A Long History Of Defending Discriminatory Voting Restrictions

Fox Attacked Justice Department For Halting South Carolina Voter ID Law. On January 3, 2012, Fox & Friends aired a segment defending South Carolina's voter ID law against charges from the Department of Justice that the state “failed to meet its burden of demonstrating” that the law “will not have a retrogressive effect” on minority voters. [Fox News, Fox & Friends1/3/12]

Fox Defended Texas Voter ID Law With False And Misleading Claims. In March 2012, Fox News and Fox Business aired several segments defending the Texas voter ID law after it was initially blocked by the DOJ. Fox's defense of the law included misleading claims that Americans must present valid ID to engage in certain consumer purchases such as buying cigarettes, boarding a plane, or cashing a check. [Fox News, Happening Now3/13/12]

Fox Rarely Mentions That Texas Voter ID Laws Are Considered Illegal Discrimination. On the August 26, 2013 edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum and correspondent Mike Emanuel lamented a renewed DOJ challenge of voter ID requirements in Texas, never mentioning that the law had already been deemed illegal because it would “inevitably disenfranchise low-income Texas citizens, who are disproportionately African American and Hispanic.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom8/26/13]  

Fox Viewers Are Misinformed About Voter Fraud. According to a November 2014 survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, Fox News viewers were far more likely than non-Fox viewers to believe that voter fraud was a bigger problem in American elections than voter suppression, despite evidence to the contrary. Fox viewers were also far less likely to acknowledge that voter ID laws disenfranchise eligible voters. [Media Matters11/13/14]