For years we have exposed vulnerabilities in our election systems. Yet the mainstream media has shown no interest in reporting any of these problems, which can lead to election fraud or administrative errors and mistakes by election officials. Quite the opposite. Even once respectable media companies like Reuters play for the other team, the side that denies election fraud and hides breakdowns in the election process.
Now, Reuters has made it personal, publishing a 3,000-word hit piece, entitled “Special Report: How a small group of U.S. lawyers pushed voter fraud fears into the mainstream.” The article is riddled with errors. And what it doesn’t mention is just as telling.
For example, it raises the alarm that a network” of “right-wing donors” gave a handful of conservative groups about $6.5 million to support election integrity and election reform efforts, but fails to mention that left-wing donors gave scores of liberal groups about $600 million to attack state election integrity laws.
As for what Reuters gets wrong, let’s start where the reporters start, by repeating the old canard that the presidential advisory panel commissioned to research problems in our voter registration and election systems “disbanded after less than a year without finding evidence of significant fraud.”
Here’s the real story. When President Trump launched his Presidential Advisory Commission for Election Integrity, left-wing advocacy groups immediately filed nearly a dozen lawsuits to keep the commission from operating. They didn’t want anybody even talking about election fraud, much less looking for it or reporting on the problems in our election system.
They also ginned up opposition to the commission among election officials and governors. Many flatly announced they would not cooperate with the Commission at all. They refused access to the basic data needed to research this issue, such as statewide voter registration lists and voter histories—information states routinely provide to candidates and political parties.
The commission was dissolved not because it failed to find anything, but because it never had the chance, due to lack of cooperation from states and the left’s lawfare, which was eating up all the time of the lean staff assigned to the commission.
Other misrepresentations in the Reuters piece were almost comical—such as calling the uber-leftist Brennan Center “non-partisan.” And then there was the reporters’ decision to give Ike Brown a platform.
If you don’t know Brown, he is the first African-American found to have violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That’s right, a law that stopped Jim Crow, decades later saw the tables turned where Brown blatantly and unapologetically engaged in racial discrimination in a black-majority county in Mississippi to keep whites out of power. Reuters stoops so low as to give this man a platform to call the Justice Department case against him a scam.
Both the U.S District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi and the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Brown masterminded a racially discriminatory scheme to use vote harvesters to steal votes – from black voters – and to systematically disenfranchise white voters by canceling and voiding their ballots. Brown’s behavior was so bad, the federal court stripped him of any role in county elections, but you wouldn’t know any of this by reading the Reuters piece.
Reuters’ Simon Lewis and Joseph Tanfani also erroneously claim that that one of us (Adams) was involved in multiple other reverse discrimination “cases” under Christopher Coates, then head of the Justice Department’s Voting Section inside the Justice Department. They give the false impression that Adams (and Coates, by implication) enforced the Voting Rights Act only in such circumstances.
That is completely wrong. The Ike Brown case was the only voting case of so-called reverse discrimination brought during the entire eight years of the Bush administration. Adams worked on numerous other enforcement cases on behalf of minority voters. In fact, the Bush administration filed four times as many cases as the Obama administration to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Coates, by the way, was given the Thurgood Marshall Decade Award by the Georgia chapter of the NAACP for his work on behalf of minority voters.
But that kind of information didn’t fit the Reuters narrative.
The article does, however, find room to mention the Public Interest Legal Foundation’s (PILF’s) lawsuits against Detroit and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, having found someone who falsely frames these actions as a racist plot to target “minority communities.” No, these were lawsuits intended to protect all of the eligible voters in Detroit and Allegheny County by ensuring that registrants who were dead or no longer living in those communities didn’t remain on the rolls, and that individuals who were registered multiple times did not cast multiple votes.
Tanfani and Lewis never mention Rashawn Slade, for instance. Slade was registered to vote seven times simultaneously at the same address in Swissvale, Pennsylvania. PILF’s Allegheny County lawsuit uncovered that problem, along with numerous others. Indeed, PILF found thousands of other duplicate registrations in Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Tanfani and Lewis made other statements that were flat wrong. They wrote: PILF “published hundreds of names and addresses, and in some cases, phone numbers” of people who were canceled as noncitizens in Virginia.
No it didn’t. PILF obtained actual government records showing these cancelations of “declared non-citizens” and made the public government records available as supporting materials. The Reuters piece wants readers to think PILF provided a personal phonebook of private information. Congress, not PILF, made the decision to designate government election records as public, and for good reason – it lets us judge how effectively election officials are doing their job.
In Virginia, they weren’t very effective at all. In the process of canceling thousands of “declared non-citizens” from the voter registration rolls, Virginia screwed up and canceled three actual citizens. But the most important point that Reuters conveniently fails to mention is that these thousands of illegally registered noncitizens were not detected by state election officials; in fact, they illegally cast thousands of votes before they voluntarily came forward to admit they were not U.S. citizens and should be taken off the rolls.
Reuters mentions The Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database containing almost 1,300 proven cases of fraud, but tries to minimize the problem by comparing that number to the “billions of votes cast” during the period the database covers. Reuters fails to mention the cautionary note, prominently posted on the database, that it presents only “a sampling of recent proven instances of election fraud.”
Using the “billions” comparison is also absurd. A single case may involve several conspirators and hundreds of votes. Moreover, billions of votes are not cast in individual local, county or state elections. As both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Carter-Baker Commission on Election Reform said, fraud could make a difference in a close election.
We have close elections all the time – like the congressional race in North Carolina’s 9th District in 2018. It was overturned by the State Board of Elections because of fraud and illegal vote harvesting. It seems Tanfani and Lewis didn’t read Reuters’s own coverage of that case in which the margin of victory was only 900 votes, since they never mentioned it in their story.
Did Reuters bother to update its story to mention PILF’s just-released report that found over 144,000 potential cases of election fraud by individuals voting twice, voting after they’re dead, or casting votes after registering at commercial addresses like UPS stores? The answer is no.
When can we expect a story from Reuters about how dozens of left-wing groups pour huge amounts of money into pushing the myth of “voter suppression” and opposing every effort and every reform intended to secure the integrity of the election process? Probably about the same time we can expect an unbiased, accurate story about our efforts to ensure that every eligible American citizen is able to vote and that vote is not diluted or stolen through fraud or administrative errors by election officials.
J.Christian Adams is the president and general counsel of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow and manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation, and is a member of the board of the Public Interest Legal Foundation.