Accuracy in Media

Chris Matthews received a rating of “False” from Politifact for an accusation he made about Florida’s 2011 voter registration law. Matthews said that the law made it impossible for third-party groups who register voters on a Friday afternoon to turn over the completed registrations to the election office within the 48-hour time frame required to make them valid.

Matthews has made no secret of his disdain for Republican efforts to require government-issued photo IDs in order to vote. On May 31, on his MSNBC show Hardball, he expressed his disapproval of the law in a discussion with the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Lenny Curry.

Matthews: “Lenny Curry, you’re the chair of the Republican Party down there. Was the intention to suppress the vote down there, as Judith says, or it had some other purpose? Why would you set a requirement you got to get your petitions in, in 48 hours? Why did you set such a requirement and a law?”

Curry: “No, there was no intention to suppress the vote.”

Matthews: “Well, why would you make such a deadline, a two-day deadline to get the petitions in?”

Curry: “In my view, the deadline seemed reasonable. The judge struck that part of the law down. A majority of the law stands, which will create …”

Matthews: “Well, wait a minute. I’m going to call you there because everybody watching can figure this one out. If I’m working in front of a Safeway somewhere and I’m collecting registrations — I’m registering people who aren’t registered — and it’s Friday afternoon at 5:00 p.m., I can’t even technically turn those in until Monday. That means it’s already elapsed, the 48 hours.

“So, under the law, nothing I get done late Friday afternoon is of any value and probably some of the stuff early Saturday morning,” said Matthews. “The 48-hour rule basically makes it impossible to meet the deadline if you’re working right to the end of the week, right, Lenny?”

Curry: “The law was written to ensure that we have controls and processes in place to ensure the integrity of the vote. Most of the law stood. I’m no lawyer. The judge ruled on the 48-hour piece of the law. And it’s gone. And it is what it is.

“But to suggest that Republicans want to suppress the vote …”

Matthews: “You don’t have to be a lawyer to own a calendar or know what a weekend is. A weekend is 48 hours.”

Curry told Matthews they could turn them in on Monday, but Matthews insisted that that wouldn’t be possible under his interpretation of the law.

Politifact decided to take a look at the law and found that Matthews was wrong:

According to the law, a completed application “shall be promptly delivered to the division or the supervisor of elections within 48 hours after the applicant completes it or the next business day if the appropriate office is closed for that 48-hour period.”

That means the applications can be turned in on Monday. Politifact verified this with Florida Department of State spokesman Chris Cate, just to be sure.

Don’t expect Matthews to apologize for this error, since he is too busy waging a war on what he and other liberals see, or claim to see, as Republican efforts to suppress minority voting. Instead, he should be trying to help bring accuracy and integrity to the voting process and to help root out fraud, which unfortunately continues to exist.

You can read our Special Report on this vital and timely topic.

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