Fox Still Cherry-Picking Data To Push Voter ID Myths

Fox News continued to promote voter ID laws by hyping a report from the conservative group National Center for Public Policy Research. But Fox has continued to ignore the massive and growing body of evidence that voter ID laws disenfranchise eligible voters while addressing a largely non-existent voter fraud problem.

Fox Hypes Report By Conservative Group To Promote Voter ID Laws

Fox's Doocy Hypes Report Claiming That “Blacks And The Poor” Would “Be Protected By Voter ID Laws.” On the August 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy promoted a report by the National Center for Public Policy Research showing that “blacks and the poor are the most common victims of voter fraud and would be protected by voter ID laws.” From Fox & Friends:

DOOCY: Meanwhile, despite an ongoing push by the Department of Justice to prevent states from requiring an ID to vote, a new study says requiring ID would actually help increase minority participation. According to a brand new study from the National Center for Public Policy Research, blacks and the poor are the most common victims of voter fraud and would be protected by voter ID laws. Horace Cooper, an adjunct fellow at the center, saying "the criminals, more often than not, are Democrats violating the rights of people who tend to be black or senior. Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department, though, has sued to block voter ID laws across the country, claiming they are unfit to minority voters. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/2/12]

NCPPR Is A Self-Described “Conservative, Free-Market, Non-Profit Think-Tank.” Doocy did not mention that the National Center for Public Policy Research is a self-described “conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank.” According to NCPPR's chairman, the group is dedicated to “putting the left on notice” that it “will not win.” From Talking Points Memo:

The National Center for Public Policy Research announced this week it had formed a “Voter Identification Task Force” to continue ALEC's “excellent work” in “promoting measures to enhance integrity in voting.” Describing itself as a “conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank,” the group was established in 1982.


“We're putting the left on notice: you take out a conservative program operating in one area, we'll kick it up a notch somewhere else,” Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research, said in a statement. “You will not win. We outnumber you and we outthink you, and when you kick up a fuss you inspire us to victory.”

Corporate CEOs who “cower in the face of liberal boycott threats need to understand that the left never gives up,” Ridenour said. “If these corporations do not reverse course and immediately grow enough of a backbone to say no when the left tells them what to do, conservatives may as well consider them part of the organized left. It doesn't matter if corporate executives have free-market sentiments hidden deep inside them if they continually surrender to the left's Trotskyite strategy of making relentless demand after demand in public.” [Talking Points Memo, 4/20/12]

Fox Ignored Evidence That Voter ID Laws Prevent Eligible People From Voting

Brennan Center For Justice Estimates 3.2 Million Eligible Voters In States With New Laws Lack State-Issued Photo ID. New York University's Brennan Center for Justice issued a report estimating that newly enacted restrictions on voting, including implementing photo ID laws, “could make it significantly harder for more than 5 million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.” From the Brennan Center for Justice:

1.     3.2 million voters affected by new photo ID laws. New photo ID laws for voting will be in effect for the 2012 election in five states (Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin), which have a combined citizen voting age population of just under 29 million. 3.2 million (11 percent) of those potential voters do not have state-issued photo ID. Rhode Island voters are excluded from this count, because Rhode Island's new law's requirements are significantly less onerous than those in the other states. [Voting Law Changes In 2012, Brennan Center for Justice, October 2011; Brennan Center for Justice, 10/3/11]

Philadelphia Inquirer: Over 700,000 Pennsylvanians May Be Disenfranchised By Voter ID Law. A July 5 Philadelphia Inquirer article reported that 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania do not have the ID the new law requires to vote, and that this could stop them from voting. From the article:

More than 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania do not have photo identification cards from the state Transportation Department, putting their voting rights at risk in the November election, according to data released Tuesday by state election officials.

The figures - representing 9.2 percent of the state's 8.2 million voters - are significantly higher than prior estimates by the Corbett administration. Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele has repeatedly said that 99 percent of Pennsylvania's voters already had the photo ID they will need at the polls in November.

The new numbers, based on a comparison of voter registration rolls with PennDot ID databases, shows the potential problem is much bigger, particularly in Philadelphia, where 186,830 registered voters - 18 percent of the city's total registration - do not have PennDot ID.

Under Pennsylvania's new voter ID law, various other forms of photo identification will be accepted at voting places in November, including U.S. passports, student identification cards with expiration dates, current military identification, and ID cards issued to government employees.

But for most voters, the Pennsylvania driver's license is the standard photo ID. The disclosure that 9 percent of the state's registered voters don't have one - or an alternative, nondriver PennDot photo ID - provides a clearer picture of the hurdle set up by the state's new voter ID requirement. [The Philadelphia Inquirer7/5/12]

For more on how Voter ID laws restrict eligible people from voting, SEE HERE

While Addressing A Largely Non-Existent Voter Fraud Problem

Supreme Court Plurality Actually Found Only “Scattered Instances Of In-Person Voting Fraud.” The Supreme Court plurality in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board did not find widespread in-person voter fraud, the type of fraud that a requirement that voters show identification at their polling places is meant to address. Rather, it found only “scattered instances” of such fraud. From the plurality opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board:

Judge Barker cited record evidence containing examples from California, Washington, Maryland, Wisconsin, Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Miami, and St. Louis. The Brief of Amici Curiae Brenan Center for Justice et al. in Support of Petitioners addresses each of these examples of fraud. While the brief indicates that the record evidence of in-person fraud was overstated because much of the fraud was actually absentee ballot fraud or voter registration fraud, there remain scattered instances of in-person voter fraud. For example, after a hotly contested gubernatorial election in 2004, Washington conducted an investigation of voter fraud and uncovered 19 “ghost voters.” Borders v. King Cty., No. 05-2-00027-3 (Super. Ct. Chelan Cty., Wash., June 6, 2005) (verbatim report of unpublished oral decision), 4 Election L. J. 418, 423 (2005). After a partial investigation of the ghost voting, one voter was confirmed to have committed in-person voting fraud. Le & Nicolosi, Dead Voted in Governor's Race, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Jan. 7, 2005, p. A1. [U.S. Supreme Court, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 4/28/08]

Justice Department Report Shows Very Few Prosecutions For Illegally Casting Ballots. According to a report by the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department, from October 2002 through September 2005, the Justice Department charged 95 people with “election fraud” and convicted 55. Among those, however, just 17 individuals were convicted for casting fraudulent ballots; cases against three other individuals accused of casting fraudulent votes were pending at the time of the report. In addition, the Justice Department convicted one election official of submitting fraudulent ballots and convicted five individuals of registration fraud, with cases against 12 individuals pending at the time of the report. Thirty-two individuals were convicted of other “election fraud” issues, including Republicans convicted of offenses arising from “a scheme to block the phone lines used by two Manchester [New Hampshire] organizations to arrange drives to the polls during the 2002 general election.” In other words, many of these convictions were connected to voter suppression efforts, not voter fraud. Several other people listed in the report were convicted of vote-buying. [Department of Justice, accessed 8/2/12]

Brennan Center For Justice: Allegations Of Widespread Voter Fraud “Simply Do Not Pan Out” And Distract From “Real [Election] Problems That Need Real Solutions.” A 2007 report by the Brennan Center for Justice found that allegations of widespread voter fraud “often prove greatly exaggerated.” The report further found that “many of the claims of voter fraud amount to a great deal of smoke without much fire. The allegations simply do not pan out.” From the report:

Perhaps because these stories are dramatic, voter fraud makes a popular scapegoat. In the aftermath of a close election, losing candidates are often quick to blame voter fraud for the results. Legislators cite voter fraud as justification for various new restrictions on the exercise of the franchise. And pundits trot out the same few anecdotes time and again as proof that a wave of fraud is imminent.

Allegations of widespread voter fraud, however, often prove greatly exaggerated. It is easy to grab headlines with a lurid claim (“Tens of thousands may be voting illegally!”); the follow-up -- when any exists -- is not usually deemed newsworthy. Yet on closer examination, many of the claims of voter fraud amount to a great deal of smoke without much fire. The allegations simply do not pan out.

These inflated claims are not harmless. Crying “wolf” when the allegations are unsubstantiated distracts attention from real problems that need real solutions. If we can move beyond the fixation on voter fraud, we will be able to focus on the real changes our elections need, from universal registration all the way down to sufficient parking at the poll site. Moreover, these claims of voter fraud are frequently used to justify policies that do not solve the alleged wrongs, but that could well disenfranchise legitimate voters. Overly restrictive identification requirements for voters at the polls -- which address a sort of voter fraud more rare than death by lightning -- is only the most prominent example. [Brennan Center for Justice, accessed 8/2/12]