Fox News Leaves Out Key Facts In Report On GA Voter Registration “Scandal”

Fox News ran a misleading segment highlighting Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's investigation into fraud allegations against a nonpartisan voter education and registration group, failing to note key facts about the accusations.

The segment, on the September 19 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, highlighted “allegations of voter registration fraud by Georgia Democrats linked to Senate candidate Michelle Nunn.” Reporter John Roberts went on to discuss the ongoing “scandal,” which he said involves “complaints about potential voter registration fraud.” Roberts highlighted Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's investigation into allegations that 25 voter registration applications and three canvassing sheets turned in by the nonpartisan New Georgia Project contained some type of inaccurate information, while another 26 were flagged as “suspicious” :

What Fox News failed to note is that Georgia law requires all applications -- even those the New Georgia Project thought were incomplete or inaccurate -- to be turned in by the organization. As Stacey Abrams, head of the New Georgia Project, told The Washington Post, her organization flagged the forms before submitting them to the secretary of state:

Of the more than 85,000 registration forms the group has turned in so far, about 11 percent were incomplete, Abrams said, but state law requires they turn in all forms they receive, regardless of whether or not they are complete. “We don't get to decide if something is good or bad,” she said. Those incomplete forms were flagged, however, by the group before being turned in.

Moreover, the secretary of state's chief investigator, Chris Harvey, said the state suspected that 51 applications out of a total of 85,000 -- or 0.06 percent of the applications submitted -- had problems. He also said that he did not believe there was an effort to commit widespread fraud. As Creative Loafing, a weekly alternative newspaper in Atlanta, reported, “Harvey clarified that there was no evidence of orchestrated effort by [the New Georgia Project] to illegally fill out voter applications.”

In fact, the number of invalid applications submitted by the New Georgia Project is significantly lower than historical national averages.

According to the most recent report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission's Election Administration and Voting Survey, 13.9 percent of registration applications were flagged as either invalid or duplicate nationwide in the last election cycle. The Election Assistance Commission's report does not list data about invalid or rejected forms collected by advocacy groups or parties in Georgia. However, there were problems with 8.8 percent of applications collected by these groups nationally, making the percentage of flagged forms submitted by the New Georgia Project comparatively low.

This small fraction would appear to be consistent with the state's recent experiences.

Since 2000, there has been only one conviction for voter registration fraud in Georgia, according to a database established by News 21, while four other people have pleaded out. All of these cases concerned either election officials or individuals, not third-party organizations.