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More than two years after losing the 2016 presidential race to Republican Donald Trump, it seems Hillary Clinton is still focused on Wisconsin -- a state she narrowly lost.
And one where she, quite notably, never campaigned during the general election.
In a March 3, 2019 speech shown by national news outlets, including C-Span, Clinton claimed tens of thousands of people in Wisconsin were "turned away" from the polls because of their skin color or other factors.
Her remarks were part of a program marking the 54th anniversary of the first march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. Marchers that day were met and beaten by state troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in what became known as "Bloody Sunday. "
In her comments, Clinton said this:
"I was the first person who ran for president without the protection of the Voting Rights Act. I’ll tell you, it makes a really big difference. And it doesn’t just make a difference in Alabama and Georgia. 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."
The number is vital, since Trump defeated Clinton by 22,748 votes. She also narrowly lost Michigan and Pennsylvania -- and with those states, the presidency.
Is Clinton correct about Wisconsin?
Do studies show "somewhere between 40,000 and 80,000 people were turned away from the polls because of the color of their skin" and other factors?
And was the lack of Voting Rights Act protections to blame?
OUR PROCESS: Read how PolitiFact checks everyone.
A familiar claim
We have looked at similar claims in the past -- including one from U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and one from Clinton herself.
We rated both Mostly False.
And, though Clinton’s new claim is different, those items provide a good starting point.
The 2016 contest was the first presidential election in which Wisconsin’s photo ID law was fully in effect.
Comparing the 2012 and 2016 elections, the report said that on average, turnout increased 1.3 percent in states in which there was no change to voter ID laws, but decreased 3.3 percent in Wisconsin.
Had Wisconsin’s photo ID law not been in effect, the report argues, Wisconsin’s turnout would have been 200,000 votes higher, based on the average increase of 1.3 percent.
Independent experts told us the methodology in the study was lacking.
In a nutshell: The photo ID requirement undoubtedly prevented or discouraged some individual people from voting. But the report attributes all of the lower turnout to the ID law, when there were many other reasons that could also explain it, including a lack of enthusiasm for Clinton or Trump -- or even a belief that Trump couldn’t win Wisconsin.
In one of our earlier items, we cited the perspective of Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He noted that Trump earned almost the same number of votes in Wisconsin as did Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee.
"Clinton, in contrast, earned 238,000 fewer voters than did Obama," he told us at the time. "It would be a mistake to attribute essentially all of that decline to the voter ID requirement."
In making her new claim, Clinton attributed what happened in Wisconsin to the fact that the Voting Rights Act was no longer in effect. That refers to a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Section 4 of the Act.
The problem: Wisconsin was never one of the states covered by that section.
As our friends at the Washington Post’s Fact-checker noted in their analysis of Clinton’s remarks:
Wisconsin was not one of the states covered by Section 4 when the court ruled in 2013, so, right off the bat, Clinton’s claim that this "made a difference in Wisconsin" is unfounded. Georgia was covered by Section 4, but Clinton’s claim that total voter registration declined in that state from 2012 to 2016 is false; it increased.
We could not reach Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill for our fact-check, but he offered several studies and other arguments to the Post.
Chief among them: A 2017 study led by Ken Mayer, a political scientist at the UW-Madison. That study involved a survey of 293 registered voters who didn’t vote in Dane and Milwaukee counties in the 2016 election.
The study focuses on those where were "deterred" from voting, which it defined as meaning the voters "lack qualifying ID or mention ID as a reason for not voting. Voter ID could be a nominal reason or the primary reason for not voting."
We should note that Mayer told the Post that 14,000 is "the equivalent of the most likely number" of those deterred by the voter ID law.
In any case, "deterred" is different than "prevented" or -- as Clinton phrased it -- "turned away."
The study put a much smaller group in its stricter "prevented" category. It also warned against extrapolating the results from Milwaukee and Dane counties to the state as a whole. Yet that is just what Clinton did.
So Clinton has problems on the low end of the range (40,000).
Where does her high end number (80,000) come from?
Merrill, the Clinton spokesman, told the Post it was based on the same Priorities USA study that was the basis for her earlier 200,000 estimate (the one we rated Mostly False). Merrill told the Post the 80,000 was a "conservative estimate well within the range of the two studies."
The Post gave Clinton a "Four Pinnochio" rating for its review of her comments.
In a speech, Clinton said because a key provision of the Voting Rights Act was not in effect, "somewhere between 40,000 and 80,000 people were turned away from the polls (in Wisconsin) because of the color of their skin" and other factors.
She is wrong about the impact of the Voting Rights Act not being in effect. The provision in question never applied to Wisconsin.
She also has problems with the numbers on both ends of her range.
What’s more, the claim -- and others like it -- put all of the blame for people not voting on the state’s photo ID law. That ignores other factors, such as a lack of enthusiasm from voters, or the belief -- one apparently shared by candidate Clinton -- that the state was a safe one for her in 2016.
We rate the claim Pants on Fire.
C-span.org "Hillary Clinton in Selma, Alabama," March 3, 2019 at about 0:600 mark.
Yahoo News "Hillary Clinton blames gutting of Voting Rights Act for her 2016 loss," March 4, 2019.
Vox "Hillary Clinton blames everyone but herself for her 2016 loss," March 17, 2019.
PolitiFact Wisconsin "Did first-time use of photo ID cause 200,000 drop in Wisconsin voter turnout in presidential race?" May 24, 2017.
PolitiFact Wisconsin "Hillary Clinton’s Mostly False claim on photo ID, voter suppression in Wisconsin in 2016 election,"
PolitiFact Wisconsin "Hillary Clinton’s claim in her new book about voter suppression in Wisconsin," Sept. 12, 2017.
Demos "Voter Suppression Analysis by Civis Analytics" May 9, 2017.
New York Times "Many in Milwaukee Neighborhood Didn’t Vote — and Don’t Regret It," Nov. 20, 2016.
The Washington Post "Hillary Clinton’s claims about voter suppression in Georgia and Wisconsin," March 6, 2019.
The Washington Post "The Pinocchio Test"
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