On Fox News, Disenfranchised Voters Are Isolated Curiosities

Fox News adoringly highlighted the story of a 92-year-old Texas woman after she started “raising a stink” about her struggle to vote under the state's new draconian voter ID law, treating her story as an isolated case and ignoring thousands of Americans disenfranchised by similar laws.

A stringent new voter ID law enacted June of 2013 in Texas obstructed the ability of 92-year-old resident Ruby Barber to cast a ballot. From the New York Daily News:

Ruby Barber, a senior citizen in the small town of Bellmead, Texas, had been unable to vote because she could not find her nearly century-old birth certificate that she'd need to obtain a voter ID under a new state law.

“I'm sure (my birth) was never reported because I was born in a farmhouse with a coal oil lamp,” Barber, 92, told the Waco (Texas) Tribune. “Didn't have a doctor, just a neighbor woman come in and (delivered) me.”

The host of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Martha MacCallum and reporter Casey Stegall offered glowing support for Barber and her struggle to vote, praising her plucky persistence to get back her right to vote. But Fox treated Barber's case as an isolated one -- a hiccup in an otherwise necessary policy to combat voter fraud.

The reality is that Barber represents a much larger group of Americans disenfranchised by Texas' new voter ID  law where - up to 800,000 Texas voters, according to the League of Women Voters of Texas. 

The New York Times explained that voter ID laws have, as of 2012, decreased turnout by “about 2 percent.” And it's the elderly, women, and minorities who tend to bear the largest burden when these laws are passed.

While Fox continues to tout the necessity of voter ID laws to combat fraud, they have continued to omit facts about voter fraud in their broadcasts. The network's report on Ruby Barber failed to mention that there is no evidence of massive in-person voter fraud -- the kind of fraud ostensibly combatted by voter ID laws. According to Mother Jones, UFO sightings are more common than “credible cases of in-person voter impersonation.”

Fox hypocritically holds Ms. Ruby up as a kind of folk hero for overcoming the arduous bureaucratic red tape at 92, but Fox pundits frequently attack voter ID critics who point to people like Barber as reasons the laws are unjust.

As Media Matters pointed out, Fox viewers are much more likely to support voter ID measures than other media consumers, and individuals who wrongly believe voter fraud to be common disproportionately support them as well.