Fox News is continuing its relentless campaign to downplay voter suppression by inaccurately arguing that high early-voting numbers prove that voting is easily accessible for everyone in Georgia.
After record voter turnout in the 2020 election, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed new voter-ID laws in an attempt to combat nonexistent voter fraud. While these measures would expand voting access in some specific instances, experts and fact-checkers repeatedly confirmed that key provisions of the law were partisan power grabs designed to suppress the vote in marginalized communities.
Fox championed Georgia’s law, dedicating nearly 300 segments to justifying its passage and pushing lie after lie about how the law would make voting easier, would bring Georgia up to par with other states, and would not increase Republican power to interfere in elections. Mainstream outlets adopted similar narratives at times, allowing right-wing figures to keep the conversation centered on false claims of partisan politics rather than the disenfranchisement of voters.
A year later, Fox’s unwavering support remains in place, as the network goes on the offensive to dismiss criticism from prominent Democrats and voting rights advocates by attempting to dismantle the idea that voter suppression exists at all.
As early voting opens in Georgia, Fox News has been quick to dismiss last year's criticism as overblown and dramatic, falsely claiming that long lines and high turnout prove that no suppression can exist. Several guests and anchors have even attempted to draw a false equivalence between Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams’ concerns over election integrity and Donald Trump’s repeatedly disproven allegations of voter fraud.
False: Record turnout means suppression is impossible
Several prominent Fox anchors and a host have superficially used Georgia's high early-voter turnout to suggest that voter suppression is not an issue, disingenuously arguing that the turnout proves voter suppression doesn't exist and that previous criticisms were unwarranted. Right-wing, mainstream, and local coverage have a history of falling into the trap of portraying long lines at polling locations as the result of anything other than GOP-led rollbacks of election access, and several Fox hosts have continued that pattern in the 2022 midterms
- During an interview with Stacy Abrams, Fox anchor Shannon Bream tried to use a net increase in early voting as a gotcha against Abrams' continued claims of voter suppression, stating that “there's a net increase of 763,380 voters. That sounds like the opposite of voter suppression.” Abrams responded by stating that “voter suppression is not about turnout; it’s about the barriers and obstacles to access.” [Fox News, Fox News Sunday, 10/09/22]
- Fox anchor Harris Faulkner presumptuously stated, “So no suppression there,” after presenting some early-turnout numbers. Faulkner went on to say people said the turnout was “presidential election-like” and noted that it “didn’t feel like a midterm.” [Fox News, Faulkner Focus, 10/19/22]
- Host Sean Hannity claimed that the high voter turnout was “debunking the media mob and the Democrats' false narrative that Georgia’s election law is Jim Crow 2.0.” Hannity then took his audience down a “memory lane” montage of criticisms of the law, before remarking that the criticism “always was a lie.” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/20/22]
False: Voter suppression is a Democrat-led scare tactic
Fox personalities have repeatedly revisited criticism from prominent Democrats and voting-rights activists who protested Georgia’s then-incoming law. While Fox personalities included a variety of complaints in their discussion, many focused on comments made by President Joe Biden lambasting the law as being “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.” Some attempted to buttress this dismissal by making a false equivalence between Abrams’ claims of voter suppression and Trump’s big lie.
- Host Jesse Watters mocked progressives for worrying about “Jim Crow on steroids” before dismissing the opposition as a “vicious lie” based on early-voter turnout. Watters added that the “White House is silent on whether Joe Biden regrets his Jim Crow 2.0 fearmongering.” [Fox News, The Five, 10/19/22]
- Speaking on America Reports, conservative commentator Jonathan Turley attempted to downplay Georgia's law by claiming that “many of the provisions in Georgia have been in Delaware and a number of other blue states.” [Fox News, America Reports, 10/10/22]
- Speaking on The Five, Fox’s Piers Morgan claimed that Abrams was “on the record as using exactly the same language” as Trump when she sounded alarms on voter suppression in Georgia. [Fox News, The Five, 10/19/22]
- Anchor Neil Cavuto painted Abrams as the election-denial originator by claiming that she was calling out voter suppression “long before Donald Trump protested the last presidential election.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 10/7/22]
False: New law would not make voting harder
Some Fox figures downplayed the law by claiming that the measures weren’t severe enough to cause suppression, or that they were easily overcome and not a significant cause for alarm.
- Host Greg Gutfeld spat that “it's easy to vote. And it's insulting to tell people that they can't vote. It's insulting to tell people that they can't get an ID.” He went on to claim that Democrats were generating “race hysteria” and that Biden was working with “pigment propagandists” to polarize party politics. [Fox News, The Five, 10/19/22]
- Guest and Wall Street Journal contributor Kyle Peterson acknowledged the claim that Georgia’s voter ID law had an outsized impact on nonwhite voters before dismissing the law as “low burden” to voting. He went on to parrot generic defenses of voter ID laws by claiming that Georgia has an interest in “making sure the people on the voter rolls match the people in the driver's license database.” [Fox News, The Journal Editorial Report, 10/8/22]
- Speaking as a guest on Hannity, Epoch Times contributor Larry Elder attempted to downplay voter suppression under Kemp by saying that his “father was from Georgia when there really was voter suppression.” He went on to spuriously argue that “now blacks are voting in Georgia as a percentage of eligible voters at a higher rate than whites” as further evidence that voter suppression isn’t a problem in modern Georgia. [Fox News, Hannity, 10/21/22]