Tucker Carlson's amnesia: “Nobody prevented anyone from voting” in Florida

CNN Crossfire co-host Tucker Carlson claimed on the July 27 edition of the show that "[n]obody prevented anyone from voting" in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. Carlson then added that the reason thousands of voters were purged from Florida's voter lists prior to the election was "[b]ecause they were convicted felons" -- an assertion contradicted by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in its June 2001 report "Voting Irregularities in Florida During the 2000 Presidential Election."

From the July 27 edition of CNN's Crossfire:

CARLSON: [N]o one is going to prevent anyone else from voting.

BEGALA: Oh, they did in Florida. They disenfranchised tens of thousands of people.

CARLSON: That's a total lie. That's a total lie -- as you know.

BEGALA: No, it's not.

CARLSON: Nobody prevented anyone from voting.

BEGALA: They knocked tens of thousands off the rolls in Florida.

CARLSON: Because they were convicted felons, Paul.

BEGALA: No, they weren't. That's the problem. They got it wrong.

CARLSON: OK, I can't re-argue something, especially when you're wrong.

BEGALA: No, I'm right.

In fact, according to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, numerous Florida voters were wrongly disenfranchised, largely as a result of an inaccurate list of supposed felons who were wrongly deemed ineligible to vote. In June 2001, the Commission reported that “Florida's reliance on a flawed voter exclusion list” -- provided to counties by Katherine Harris, then Florida's secretary of state and currently a Republican member of Congress -- “had the result of denying African Americans the right to vote.” Regarding that flawed voter exclusion file, an article published by Salon.com in December 2000 reported that:

A close examination suggests thousands of voters may have lost their right to vote based on a flaw-ridden list ... In the 10 counties contacted by Salon, use of the central voter file seemed to vary wildly. ... Counties that did their best to vet the file discovered a high level of errors, with as many as 15 percent of names incorrectly identified as felons.

As Media Matters for America has previously noted, a December 15, 2000, Orlando Sentinel article by Tallahassee bureau chief John Kennedy reported that "[Katherine] Harris's office, in its attempt to cleanse the rolls of felons, mistakenly purged thousands of voters who did not have criminal records. A disproportionate number of them were black." And according to a December 15, 2000, Associated Press article, Florida's Republican governor, Jeb Bush, voiced the same concerns following his appointment of a panel to address election irregularities: “There have been allegations that felons voted and people's names were removed from the voter rolls,” Bush said. “These are issues that must be addressed.”

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