Sinclair Broadcast Group included debunked Republican lies about mail-in voter fraud in its national report on Democrats’ massive voter rights bill H.R.1, also known as the For The People Act. This January 27 report from Sinclair national correspondent Kristine Frazao aired on at least 56 Sinclair-owned or -operated stations in 38 states and Washington, D.C., according to a transcript search of the Kinetiq database. The report likely aired on many more, as it was rebroadcast the next day on Sinclair’s morning program The National Desk, which airs on 68 Sinclair stations.
The bill, which was introduced in the new Congress on January 4, contains numerous reforms to America’s elections. It would make voter registration easier and more accessible, spending in elections more transparent, and voting by mail more accessible and free for voters, among other changes.
Frazao singled out for criticism the bill’s provisions to make voting by mail easier. The bill states: “A State may not require an individual to provide any form of identification as a condition of obtaining an absentee ballot.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, voter ID requirements generally don’t apply to absentee or mail-in ballots anyway. But in the wake of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, multiple GOP-controlled state legislatures are introducing a slew of new laws to make voting more difficult. Republicans in Georgia have introduced legislation to require people to provide photo ID twice when voting by mail, highlighting the need to include a provision in H.R.1 to bar this form of voter suppression.
In her segment, Frazao baselessly claimed that this provision in the For The People Act “could promote voter fraud.”
While Frazao mentioned the signature verification of mail-in ballots, there are many other safety features for this type of voting which make fraud extremely difficult and rare. As the Brennan Center for Justice has explained, the safety features include other forms of identity verification in the ballot envelope, bar codes for election officials to “identify and eliminate duplicate ballots,” secure drop-off locations and drop boxes, and ballot tracking through the U.S. Postal Service, which some states provide. Additionally, there are post-election audits designed to detect fraud -- and Georgia’s audit didn’t find a single instance of absentee ballot fraud in the 2020 election.
A November BBC fact check of claims of mail-in voter fraud reported that there is “overwhelming evidence that voting by post is safe and secure,” and it quoted Federal Election Commission head Ellen Weintraub saying: “There's simply no basis for the conspiracy theory that voting by mail causes fraud.” In January, The New York Times debunked numerous claims from then-President Donald Trump that mail-in voting encourages fraud, explaining, “There have been numerous independent studies and government reviews finding voter fraud extremely rare in all forms, including mail-in voting.”
Frazao has twice before used her platform through Sinclair’s huge network of local TV stations to push baseless GOP attacks on mail-in voting. In June, a report from Frazao aired Trump’s lies that mail-in ballots are “asking for fraud,” that “people steal them out of mailboxes,” and that “foreign countries” will print “millions of mail-in ballots.” And in April, she aired a lie from Trump that “a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting.”