On Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade and Fox's Martha MacCallum and Bill Hemmer laughed off the difficulties 102-year-old Desiline Victor endured in order to vote in the 2012 election. Victor, who was invited to the State of the Union address and whom President Obama applauded for enduring a long wait to vote, had to make two trips to the polls and wait in line for over three hours before she was able to cast her ballot. Discussing Victor, MacCallum wondered, "What's the big deal?" and said, "This is such a non-issue. Ridiculous." Hemmer added that at the State of the Union, "They held her up as a victim. What was she a victim of?"
But long lines at polling places are widely acknowledged as a major issue nationwide. In Victor's home state of Florida alone, at least 201,000 eligible voters reportedly did not cast ballots because they were discouraged by lengthy wait times.
Earlier, on MacCallum and Hemmer's show America's Newsroom, Fox correspondent Eric Shawn reported on proposals to extend early voting to ease the problem of long lines at the polls. Shawn noted that Florida had the longest polling place lines in 2012, and then played a clip of Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner addressing Florida's issues, stating that Detzner is "working on ways to fix the problems," including an extension of the state's early voting period in order to shorten voters' wait.
Shawn failed to reveal, however, that Detzner played a role in exacerbating this problem in Florida.
Prior to the 2012 election, as The Huffington Post explained, "Florida's GOP-led legislature cut the number of early voting days down from 14 to eight last year, eliminating the traditionally heavy Sunday before Election Day but keeping the number of maximum hours the same. The move was signed into law by Scott and approved by federal courts." Governor Rick Scott refused to extend early voting hours even when asked by county election supervisors -- and Detzner, his secretary of state, rationalized this refusal by arguing that he was only allowed to extend early voting hours during a state of emergency, and "[f]ortunately, no such situation currently exists in the State of Florida." However, past Republican governors found that prohibitively long voting lines met this standard and subsequently extended early voting hours.
Florida is not alone -- Republican state lawmakers passed waves of legislation before the 2012 election that made it more difficult to for voters to cast ballots and may have increased wait times by curtailing early voting. The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that these new laws may have impacted over five million Americans, particularly minorities. Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Charles Stewart, who has conducted extensive election analysis, noted that "the factors associated with waiting in longer lines are easy to identify: early voters wait longer than Election Day voters, city dwellers wait longer than all others, and African Americans and Hispanics wait longer than white voters." Indeed, as the Brennan Center wrote:
New restrictions on early voting will also have their biggest impact on people of color. Opponents of these restrictions have been particularly angered by the efforts to eliminate Sunday early voting, which they see as explicitly targeting African-American voters. Florida eliminated early voting on the last Sunday before Election Day, and Ohio has eliminated early voting on Sundays entirely. There is substantial statistical and anecdotal evidence that African Americans (and to a lesser extent Hispanics) vote on Sundays in proportionately far greater numbers than whites.