On Monday morning, Sinclair Broadcast Group anchor Jan Jeffcoat allowed a Republican senator to lie about Democrats’ For the People Act, which would streamline federal election rules and make it easier for voters to participate. Rather than protect her viewers from this misinformation, Jeffcoat, whose morning news program The National Desk airs on 68 Sinclair-owned or -operated local TV stations, moved on to a different topic.
The For the People Act, which was passed by the House on March 3 as H.R.1, 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 many other changes. Voting rights advocates have explained that this legislation is urgently needed because of numerous efforts by Republican-controlled states to pass onerous restrictions on voting.
Jeffcoat’s guest, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), was on to discuss Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) June 6 op-ed explaining why he wouldn’t vote for the bill. But when Jeffcoat invited Marshall to explain his own position on the For the People Act, the Republican senator blatantly lied about what the legislation contains. Rather than correct this misinformation for her viewers, Jeffcoat changed the topic.
The For the People Act does not, in fact, force states to stop enforcing voter ID laws. FactCheck.org explained in March that “H.R. 1 wouldn’t ban state laws that ask voters to show identification at the polls.” Instead, the bill provides “an option for those who don’t have ID to offer a signed statement instead during federal elections.”
And PolitiFact has debunked the claim Marshall used that the bill would “force you to mail out ballots.” The bill instead makes it easier for registered voters to request a mail-in ballot, and “would require states to send mail ballot applications to all registered voters before federal elections, but sending an application is not the same thing as sending an actual ballot.”
Marshall’s other comments about the For the People Act are lacking needed context. PolitiFact also explained that collecting mail-in ballots is already legal in many states and the bill would “permit a voter to designate any person” to return their completed and sealed mail-in ballot, as long as that person isn’t being paid based on the number of ballots they’re collecting. And the provision for matching federal campaign dollars is, as Newsweek explained in March, designed to give congressional challengers a fairer chance against incumbents.
Jeffcoat’s failure to push back against these lies about H.R.1 is nothing new for Sinclair’s national news programming. In January, Sinclair national correspondent Kristine Frazao pushed GOP lies about voter fraud in her report on the For the People Act. And in March, Sinclair national correspondent Ahtra Elnashar whitewashed the GOP’s nationwide effort to suppress voting in her report on the bill, while also including false GOP talking points.