Election fraud claims thrive on Pennsylvania campaign trail

May 3, 2022, 4:06 PM | Updated: May 4, 2022, 5:59 am
FILE —This file photo from Jan. 5, 2022, shows Republican candidates for governor as they meet at...

FILE —This file photo from Jan. 5, 2022, shows Republican candidates for governor as they meet at a forum at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. Republicans have made anger over the 2020 election a staple of this year's mid-term primary campaigns as Democrats appear prepared to tie them to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, contending that Republican-sponsored election legislation is an attack on voting rights. Pennsylvania's primary election is May 17.(Mark Pynes/The Patriot-News via AP, File)

(Mark Pynes/The Patriot-News via AP, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — With two weeks until Pennsylvania’s primary election, Republican candidates running for U.S. Senate and governor continue to sow doubts about the legitimacy of 2020’s presidential election, showing the extent to which the GOP campaign trail remains in thrall to former President Donald Trump’s extreme and baseless election claims.

Both offices are hotly contested and could be critical to the outcome of Pennsylvania’s 2024 presidential election when Trump may run again, whether certifying election results or dictating election laws in the battleground state.

But, while Republicans have made anger over the 2020 election a staple of this year’s midterm primary campaigns to appeal to Trump-loyal GOP voters, such messages could be a liability in fall’s general election campaign, pollsters say.

There, Republicans can be expected to focus on inflation, the economy and President Joe Biden’s performance, especially considering that Americans continue to feel pessimistic about the direction of the country and the national economy.

Democrats, however, appear prepared to revisit Trump’s baseless election fraud claims, tying them to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the ensuing armada of Republican-sponsored election legislation that Democrats frame as an attack on voting rights.

Pennsylvania’s primary election is May 17, with big and wide-open Republican fields vying for the nominations for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat and its open governor’s office.

Efforts to overturn elections and change election laws in Pennsylvania and other battleground states lost by Trump are part of the larger story playing out in some GOP primaries.

Many of the baseless claims target Pennsylvania, recaptured from Trump by Democrats in 2020.

Candidates sometimes repeat Trump’s conspiracy theories about fraud or distort the actions of state officials and judges in an attempt to portray Democrats as having cheated — or both.

In the Senate race, five of the seven Republicans in the primary field have refused to say whether they would have voted to certify Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election result, in which Biden beat Trump by 80,000 votes, according to the official tally.

Such a position puts them on the fringe of not only the Senate, which voted 92-7 to certify, but the Senate’s Republican caucus, including the man they hope to replace, retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

Just the Trump-endorsed Mehmet Oz — best-known as the heart surgeon-turned-TV celebrity host of “The Dr. Oz Show” — and real estate investor Jeff Bartos say they would have voted to certify the election.

“By the time it gets to the Senate, it’s not my job, nor should it be, to question what states have said,” Oz said in a recent interview.

Still, Oz has agreed with other Republican candidates in saying the 2020 election still needs to be investigated and laws need to be changed.

Some go farther.

“As a matter of fact, we know that the election of 2020 was stolen,” Senate candidate Carla Sands told a debate audience last week.

In the governor’s race, every candidate in the GOP’s nine-person field has vowed to repeal Pennsylvania’s 2-year-old law that established no-excuse mail-in voting.

Many Republicans on Pennsylvania’s campaign trail also talk up the need to expand Pennsylvania’s voter identification requirement and to ban drop boxes. That’s despite the fact that prosecutors identified perhaps just one case in the 2020 election of in-person voting fraud and zero evidence that drop boxes were a conduit for fraudulent ballots.

Prosecutors brought charges in about five cases in which voters — all Republicans — cast ballots for a dead relative or spouse. That gives gubernatorial candidate Lou Barletta his punchline.

“Listen, we know dead people have been voting in Pennsylvania all of our lives and now they don’t even have to leave the cemetery to vote,” Barletta told a debate audience last week. “They can mail-in their ballots. I’m going to get rid of it.”

Mail-in voting is, he said, “ripe for fraud, ballot harvesting. We could go on and on.”

Among the claims about 2020’s election is that widespread voter fraud occurred, but an Associated Press review found fewer than 475 instances of potential voter fraud in the six states disputed by Trump — a number that would have made no difference in the election.

One candidate for governor, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who maintains the election was skewed by fraud against Trump, proposed a plan in the Legislature to overturn it and was issued a subpoena by the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol over the GOP’s creation of an alternate slate of electors.

He said, if elected, he would require voters to “re-register. We’re going to start all over again.”

That, however, is barred by the National Voter Registration Act, and likely runs into significant protections under the federal — and possibly state — constitution and laws, constitutional law scholars say.

Democratic candidates have not shied away from emphasizing the GOP’s efforts to overturn 2020´s election — and pollsters who have surveyed on it say majorities are skeptical about election fraud claims and resulting investigations.

“Trying to make this an issue, a core election issue, does more harm than good for Republicans,” said Christopher Borick, a pollster and political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. “And it’s night and day, primary versus general election.”

At a campaign stop in Potter County recently, Josh Shapiro, the sitting state attorney general who is uncontested for the Democrats’ gubernatorial nomination, made the subject a core part of his pitch.

Election lies led to lawsuits to overturn the election, the Jan. 6 insurrection and then legislation in state Capitols to restrict voting rights, Shapiro told listeners. Republicans’ voting legislation passed in some states, but was vetoed in Pennsylvania by Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat.

“But make no mistake, they’re coming back,” Shapiro told the crowd. “And I will always stand up and protect our democracy. I will always stand up and ensure that you have a right to cast your ballot and to be heard in our system.”


Follow AP for full coverage of the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics


Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/timelywriter

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

UN expert says Japan should do more for Fukushima evacuees

TOKYO (AP) — A United Nations human rights expert urged Japan’s government on Friday to provide evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster with more support, including housing, jobs and other needs, regardless of whether they fled forcibly or not. Wrapping up an investigation of the evacuees’ human rights conditions, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary said Japan has […]
1 day ago
Border Patrol agents stand near the site where a Mexican detainee was fatally shot at the Ysleta Bo...
Associated Press

FBI: Man killed at Border Patrol station held ‘edged weapon’

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A Mexican man fatally shot at a U.S. Border Patrol station in Texas had grabbed an “edged weapon” and was advancing toward agents when they opened fire, the FBI said Thursday. Manuel Gonzalez-Moran, 33, died at an El Paso hospital Tuesday after he was shot by Border Patrol agents. The […]
1 day ago
In this photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, an Army Tactical Missile System or ATACMS m...
Associated Press

US sanctions Asian firms over North Korean fuel shipments

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the midst of increasingly aggressive North Korean missile launches this week, the U.S. on Friday imposed sanctions on people and firms in Asia accused of helping North Korea procure fuel in violation of U.N. sanctions. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control targeted two people and three firms from Singapore, Taiwan and […]
1 day ago
FILE--In this June 20, 2019, file photo Deangelo Martin stands for a probable cause hearing, in Det...
Associated Press

Detroit man sentenced in killings of 4 women, 2 sex assaults

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit man was sentenced to at least 45 years in prison after pleading guilty to murdering four women whose bodies were found in vacant houses and to sexually assaulting two other women. A Wayne County Circuit Court judge sentenced Deangelo Martin, 37, on Thursday to 45 to 70 years behind bars. […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Indian workers rescued from job scams in Southeast Asia

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s government on Friday said it has rescued about 130 Indian workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia after they were lured by agents for fake job opportunities in the information technology sector in Thailand. Arindam Bagchi, the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, said some fraudulent IT companies appear to be engaged in […]
1 day ago
FILE - Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao answers a question during a Zoom meeting interview with The Assoc...
Associated Press

Binance hacked to the tune of $100 million or more

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, may have lost more than $100 million following a hack of its Binance Smart Chain blockchain network. A reddit post by Binance discussing the incident said that the company temporarily suspended transactions and the transfer of funds after detecting an exploit between two blockchains. “The issue is contained now. […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Election fraud claims thrive on Pennsylvania campaign trail