When Bill O’Reilly presents an investigation on “voter fraud” Thursday night, it won’t be nearly the first time the Fox News star has commented on the otherwise minuscule problem.
O’Reilly has regularly exaggerated the threat of so-called voter fraud, and downplayed the adverse effects of placing more restrictions on voting, as the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America has documented.
In August, when Donald Trump was in the early stages of sowing doubt about the integrity of this year’s presidential election results, he went on O’Reilly’s show and estimated that without new voter identification laws, “they’re going to vote 10 times,” a wild assertion that went unchallenged by O’Reilly.
Barely two weeks later, O’Reilly invited lawyers and Fox News presenters Kimberly Guilfoyle and Stacy Schneider to discuss voter fraud, which they said was exceedingly rare. “There is no statistical evidence of systematic voter fraud in presidential elections,” Schneider said.
“But what about the reports in Philadelphia that nobody voted for Romney?” O’Reilly interjected, referring to the 2012 presidential election, in which there were no votes for the Republican nominee in 59 voting divisions of Pennsylvania’s most populous city – ripe fodder for conspiracy theorists.
Guilfoyle and Schneider told him his suspicions were probably misguided: Philadelphia is a heavily Democratic city, and that Romney received no votes wasn’t as shocking as O’Reilly had implied.
Just days earlier, Trump told a rally in Altoona, Pennsylvania, “We’re going to watch” the state, which polls showed at the time favored Hillary Clinton by a sizable margin. “Go down to certain areas to watch and study and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times,” Trump said.
In fact, O’Reilly had already “investigated” the 2012 results in Philadelphia, a week after Election Day. He invited on Megan Kelly, also an attorney, to discuss the vote. She, too, confirmed that nothing unusual happened in Philadelphia.
“Same thing happened to McCain!” Kelly said, before clarifying that in 2008, John McCain hadn’t received a single vote in 57 voting divisions, while Romney had struck out in 59.
Most recently, responding to the Supreme Court’s decision not to accept a case that might have protected Ohio’s “Golden Week” of voter registration, O’Reilly lauded the decision, saying, “every African American I know has an ID!”
The Brennan Center for Justice describes the problem of voter fraud as “very rare,” and the type of voter impersonation that new voter ID laws would address as “nearly non-existent.”