Accuracy in Media

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow left out important context when she compared early in-person voting and mail-in voting in Georgia so far to this point compared to the 2014 midterm elections and showed numbers that are more than three times as much so far this year.

“Early voting in Georgia skyrockets versus 2014 midterms,” the headline of her video states, reporting on some 129,000 early voters including mail-ins vs just over 46,000 in 2014. Yet Maddow also didn’t mention that out of 14 Georgia congressional districts, just four have a Democratic advantage. Maddow also didn’t didn’t mention important context about Georgia’s turnout in 2016, where Georgians also turned out in record numbers to vote for President Trump. The certified ballot count of Georgia voters was an all-time high of 4,165,405 out of the 5,443,046 registered to vote in 2016, a huge turnout of 76.53 percent in a year when the national voter turnout was a below-average 55 percent.

Maddow also didn’t mention that President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 211,141 votes in 2016 and that Democratic the most expensive House race in history happened in Georgia and ended in a win for Republicans as Karen Handel narrowly defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff. According to campaign finance documents compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, Ossoff spent six times more money than Handel.

Maddow took issue with the reported 53,000 Georgia voter registrations marked as “pending,” or needing further review to reconcile mismatches in government-filed documents, claiming that it was an effort by Georgia Republicans to suppress minority voters. Yet she didn’t mention that Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp publicly noted that “pending” voters can still show up to the polls, regardless of their pending status. They’ll be asked to show a valid state or federal photo ID that corroborates their registration application, which can reconcile the discrepancy, and voters who prove “substantial match” between their voter registration and ID can cast normal ballots, not provisional. Voter registrations are cancelled if people remain on the “pending” rolls for 26 months without sorting out disparities with their DDS or Social Security office profiles.

Yet Maddow still said that Kemp was engaging in “supressive pressure” and implied, without any reported evidence, that the rise in early voting was because of Democrats.

“The Democrats have countered that voter-suppressive pressure by saying get out and vote early we need to register more people than ever,” Maddow said. “We need to vote early. We need to get people to mail in their ballots. We are now seeing early voting and mail-in ballot voting in Georgia just going through the roof, at least in the early days.”

Maddow also didn’t mention that Republican President Trump attracted many first-time voters in 2016.

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