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Fox News Cooks Up A Voting Controversy In Illinois And Adds A Racial Spice To The Mix

Reported by Ellen - October 18, 2010 -

I’ve long thought that Fox News’ obsession with voter fraud in years past was a way of laying the groundwork for challenging any disagreeable outcomes of a close election. So imagine my non-surprise when Republican activist Eric Eversole fear mongered yesterday (10/17/10) about the possibility that the State of Illinois – where Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias is tied with Republican Mark Kirk for Barack Obama’s old Senate seat – had not sent its military ballots out on time. Eversole offered host Shannon Bream no evidence that that was the case, he just likened Illinois’ election official to a murder suspect and complained that the DOJ had not been suspicious enough. Eversole also added a bit of racial color by opining that the reason the DOJ doesn’t investigate problems with military ballots enough is because military voter problems don’t “fall within the traditional framework of the civil rights laws… It’s just not something that they have shown much interest in.” Oddly, both Bream and Eversole focused more on the Obama DOJ than on discussing the extent of the problem and what’s being done – or not – to remedy it.

In her introduction, Bream said, “A number of states are simply not complying” with a new federal law’s deadline for absentee ballots to be sent to members of the military serving abroad. Bream added, “The Department of Justice is now asking several states to explain, step up, tell us what’s going on.”

Bream then presented Eversole, as “executive director of the Military Voter Protection Project” without noting his history as a Republican activist.

Bream wasted no time maligning the Justice Department. “The DOJ knew some of these problems were bubbling up out there. I understand it was you writing a letter that actually made some of a difference.”

Eversole said that “with the help of some very eager law students in Florida and California,” he had uncovered “widespread problems.”

“Once we found these initial violations, we asked the Department of Justice to do more, to step up and do its job,” Eversole continued.

OK, so what do we have so far? Eversole found some problems, which he never enumerated, and now the DOJ is investigating. Curiously, Bream showed almost no interest in what problems had been found, where they had been found and what was being done to remedy them. She was almost entirely fixated on the DOJ. She said, “Well, those students and under your leadership seemed to uncover something that it appears maybe the Department of Justice as an agency would not have uncovered. Does that surprise you?”

Not surprisingly, it didn’t. Eversole said, “The sad fact is, the voting section never really made it a priority to protect military voters.” Then, apropos of nothing discussed so far, Eversole said, “I think a lot of the folks in the nation saw what type of investigation that the Department did in Illinois.”

Obviously, the Fox News producers were prepared for this turn of the discussion because they already had a banner on the lower third of the screen reading, “DOJ looking into if military ballots were sent on time in IL.”

Eversole continued, “They (the DOJ) emailed the (IL) state elections official, asked them if they sent out the ballots and when the state said, ‘yes,’ that was it. That’s not an investigation.”

Well, it could be. Eversole offered no reason that the DOJ should have been suspicious that the IL elections official would lie or that any further investigation was warranted.

But, Eversole added, “You wouldn’t call a murder suspect and ask him if they committed the crime and then end your investigation at that point.”

There were absolutely no grounds to liken the Illinois (or any other) state elections official to a murder suspect, but Bream didn’t challenge Eversole’s outlandish comparison. Instead, she asked another question about the DOJ. “Given your experience, what is your opinion about why these military votes were not a priority?”

She did not point out that the DOJ is suing Guam for its failure to transmit absentee ballots in advance and that as the Air Force Times reports, “There may be more legal action to come.”

The Air Force Times also noted other actions being taken by the DOJ to ensure that military ballots will be counted.

“Justice officials have come to agreement with six states and territories that were denied waivers (of the law’s deadline), to ensure they will take measures to allow votes to count. In Wisconsin, the District of Columbia and Hawaii, voters will get extra time to return their absentee ballots.

In the case of the other three waiver denials, Alaska, Colorado and the Virgin Islands took other actions to enable their voters’ absentee ballots to be counted.

Another three states that were among the five granted waivers — Massachusetts, New York and Washington — also have extended their deadlines for receipt of absentee ballots.

Over the summer, when the phony New Black Panther “controversy” arose via one of Eversole’s former colleagues at the overly partisan Bush DOJ, I wrote that Fox News was trying to turn the Obama DOJ into this year’s ACORN with trumped-up accusations that the DOJ was playing racial politics with voter cases. Now, following in those racialized, election-year footsteps, Eversole said, “I think it’s a lot of reasons… The federal law that protects military voters doesn’t fall within the traditional framework of the civil rights laws that the civil rights division protects.” He added, “There are very few military personnel that actually work in the voting section… It’s just not something that they have shown much interest in and they certainly don’t have the experience level to do the investigations… It certainly doesn’t seem like it’s a priority for them.”

Finally, Bream got around to telling the “we report, you decide” network’s audience a little bit about what the DOJ is doing, albeit with an immediate cast of doubt about the department afterward: “We know… complaints… were filed in a number of states and that they’re reaching settlements with New Mexico, New York. We know the investigation in Illinois and other U.S. territories as well. Is this a case of too little too late?”

Eversole said he didn’t think it was “too little too late” but “we’re getting to that critical point.” He continued, “It’s my understanding that all the ballots went out… but again, it depends on how thorough of an investigation was done.”

So as far as we know, all the problems were at the state level. But Bream and Eversole kept making it about the DOJ.



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