As part of its campaign to stoke fears of widespread voter fraud, Fox is ginning up outrage that voter registration forms have been sent to dead people, dogs, and cats, with the apparent implication that those dogs and cats might vote and alter the outcome of the 2012 election.
The target of Fox's latest attack is the Voter Participation Center (VPC), a nonprofit group that uses mass mailings of voter registration applications in an effort to reach the 24 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote, but not registered. Recently, the center acknowledged that some mailings were addressed to ineligible voters, including deceased citizens and even pets, because of faulty commercial mailing lists.
While this is several steps away from actual voter fraud -- a virtually nonexistent problem in U.S. elections -- Fox News worried that these applications were raising “growing fears on election fraud.” On today's broadcast of America Live, host Megyn Kelly claimed:
KELLY: Growing fears on election fraud today, as folks across the country get pre-filled-out voter registration forms. You know where they say, like, here, this is you, Megyn Kelly, this is where you show up to vote. But they don't have your name on it. They have the name of your dead pet. Or dead relative. Or your live pet. Either way, it's problematic. Because your pet -- your pet shouldn't be on there. The documents look official, but it turns out they are not coming from election administrators, but from a nonprofit group, and that's causing some controversy.
Fox's America's Newsroom teased a story about the VPC registration forms by saying that there are “new concerns about voter fraud ahead of the November elections.” The subsequent segment was identified as part of Fox News' “Voter Fraud Watch:”
But sending out inaccurately addressed voter registration forms is not voter fraud.
Before a fraudulent ballot could be cast, the registration would need to be submitted to an election board, which would then have to approve that registration. It is the responsibility of the person signing the application to truthfully represent his or her eligibility to vote, as the VPC explained.
VPC's attorney, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, pointed out that “each of the organization's planned mailings is provided to the state board for review,” since a state's board of elections must approve a voter's application before he or she is actually registered to vote. The Voter Participation Center lays out the difficulty a pet would face when trying to vote.
Earlier this month, the Romney campaign asked election officials in Virginia to launch a criminal probe into Voter Participation Center, but state officials declined after the center said it would only send blank registration forms to potential voters, rather than forms that already had a voter's name filled in. The Washington Post reported:
The center stressed that it mailed applications for registering to vote -- forms widely available at government offices and online -- and not voter ID cards, which can serve as identification at the polls and can be issued only by elections officials. It was the responsibility of recipients and elections officials to make sure no one actually registered with an errant form, the center said.
Fox often cries “wolf” over voter fraud as part of its efforts to drum up support for voter I.D. laws, despite the fact that these laws seek to remedy a problem that scarcely exists. Instead, voter I.D. laws “could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012," the Brennan Center for Justice found. Minority voters, those with lower incomes, and the elderly are most likely to be disenfranchised by voter I.D. laws.