Washington Post Fact Checks Hillary Clinton’s Absurd Claim That Voter ID Laws Cost Her The Election
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On Sunday, Hillary Clinton attended the annual “Bloody Sunday” commemorative service in Selma, AL. While speaking to the crowd, she claimed that voter ID laws kept her from winning Wisconsin — a state she didn’t even bother to visit while running for president in 2016. She was the first candidate since 1972 to ignore the Badger State.
“I was the first person who ran for president without the protection of the Voting Rights Act, and I will tell you, it makes a really big difference. And it doesn’t just make a difference in Alabama and Georgia; it made a difference in Wisconsin, where the best studies that have been done said somewhere between 40 [thousand] and 80,000 people were turned away from the polls because of the color of their skin, because of their age, because of whatever excuse could be made up to stop a fellow American citizen from voting,” she said.
“Just think about it: Between 2012, the prior presidential election where we still had the Voting Rights Act, and 2016, when my name was on the ballot, there were fewer voters registered in Georgia than there had been those prior four years,” she added.
Though The Washington Post acknowledged some studies claim voter ID laws disenfranchise minority voters (even though getting a proper ID is not difficult for any U.S. citizen of legal voting age), it noted that Clinton “made several factual errors, offered questionable claims about a couple of studies, and ended up giving a misleading assessment of her loss.”
For starters, the part of the Voting Rights Act that was struck down only applied to nine states and a few counties — none of which were in Wisconsin. Georgia, which was covered by the VRA, saw voter registration increase between 2012 and 2016, counter to Clinton’s claims.
The Wisconsin voter ID law gave people plenty of options for what ID could allow them to vote. The Post reported that it required “voters to show a U.S. passport or a photo ID issued by Wisconsin state agencies, the military, Veterans Affairs, a university or college, or a federally recognized Indian tribe.”
The author of one of the studies, Clinton’s spokesperson Nick Merrill, pointed to surveyed people in two counties and said the results could not be extrapolated to the whole state. He even suggested some people who said they didn’t vote because of the voter ID “might not have voted even if the law were not in effect.”
Merrill also pointed to other evidence — a memo from a Democrat super PAC which made the absurd claim that more than 200,000 additional people would have voted in Wisconsin were it not for the voter ID laws. As for the 80,000, it looks like Clinton’s people just made it up.
“The 40,000 number comes from the more conservative estimate,” Merrill told the Post. “The 80,000 number is also a conservative estimate well within the range of the two studies.”
But the Post also spoke to Rick Hasen of the University of California-Irvine. He’s an “elections expert” and told the media outlet that black voters didn’t come out for Clinton like they did for Obama — and this happened in states with and without voter ID laws. Further, Hasen told the Post that Clinton’s 40,000 to 80,000 estimate was “ludicrous” because Wisconsin wasn’t affected by the Voting Rights Act (he still managed to claim that voter ID laws deter voters).
The Post’s Salvador Rizzo concludes:
The Supreme Court’s ruling in 2013 had no bearing on Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin-Madison study she relied on for her 40,000 estimate says its findings from two counties should not be extrapolated to form statewide conclusions. Her spokesman did not cite any study for the 80,000 estimate. Voter registration in Georgia did not decline from 2012 to 2016.
“Wrong on multiple levels, seriously misleading, and worth a cumulative Four Pinocchios,” he added.