PolitiFact Gives Hillary Clinton 'Pants on Fire' for Voter Suppression Claim

'Clinton’s numbers still aren’t anywhere close to accurate'

Getty Images
September 20, 2019

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received the lowest possible grade from fact-checker PolitiFact for repeating a claim that fact-checkers had already heavily criticized.

Clinton first claimed in May 2017, "The best estimate is that 200,000 people in Wisconsin were either denied or chilled in their efforts to vote" in the 2016 presidential election. PolitiFact ruled that claim was mostly false, noting that the estimate came from a Democratic PAC and that most experts say it's impossible to tell how much of Wisconsin's low turnout was attributable to voter ID laws and how much was due to low enthusiasm for Clinton and Donald Trump.

But the former secretary of state ratcheted up her rhetoric earlier this year. "I was the first person who ran for president without the protection of the Voting Rights Act," she said in a March speech, referring to the 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act that subjected certain states to extra federal scrutiny. "It made a difference in Wisconsin, where the best studies that have been done said somewhere between 40,000 and 80,000 people were turned away from the polls because of the color of their skin, because of their age, because of whatever excuse could be made up to stop a fellow American citizen from voting."

PolitiFact gave Clinton a "Pants on Fire" for that claim and the Washington Post fact-checker gave her "Four Pinocchios," both the worst possible rating. The fact-checks noted that Wisconsin wasn't even covered by the portion of the Voting Rights Act the Court struck down, that the 40,000 figure was reached by misapplying data from only one county, and there was no basis for the 80,000 figure at all.

Clinton combined the two false claims Tuesday. "Experts estimate that anywhere from 27,000 to 200,000 Wisconsin citizen voters, predominantly in Milwaukee, were turned away from the polls," she said in a speech at George Washington University. "That's a lot of potential voters."

"Hillary Clinton just can't quit Wisconsin," PolitiFact snarked in response. "Or, more specifically, can't quit blaming its voting system for her 2016 electoral defeat." The fact-checker rehashed all the reasons it had laid out before, saying "Clinton's numbers still aren't anywhere close to accurate."

"This is the third time we have rated claims from Clinton on the Wisconsin turnout," the article concluded. "She's no closer on this one than the last one. We rate this claim Pants on Fire."