Appearing on Fox News' Glenn Beck, John Fund claimed that Hispanic voters in Camden, New Jersey, are being told that there is "a new way for you to vote, la nueva forma de votar" -- an anecdote Fund suggested was evidence of voter fraud in the state's 2009 gubernatorial election. In fact -- as Fund himself wrote in a Wall Street Journal column published hours earlier -- that incident actually occurred in Philadelphia in 1993.
Fund on Fox: Hispanics in NJ currently being told of "la nueva forma de votar"
From the November 2 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
FUND: People are going door to door in parts of Camden with Hispanics that don't have very much knowledge of English, and they're saying, "We have a new way for you to vote, la nueva forma de votar; just fill out these papers."
Incident in question actually occurred in Philadelphia ... in 1993
In WSJ, Fund acknowledged that "la nueva forma de votar" scandal actually happened in Philadelphia in 1993. In a Wall Street Journal column published less than five hours before his appearance on Glenn Beck, Fund wrote that Hispanic voters were told of " 'la nueva forma de votar' -- the new way to vote" in Philadelphia in 1993, not in New Jersey in 2009.
From Fund's November 2 column:
There are additional reports from Camden that Hispanic voters have been misled into voting absentee ballots. So-called bearers who are allowed to collect and carry absentee ballots are said to have encouraged voters to fill out applications for absentee ballots. A few days later, the bearers reportedly return with the actual ballots, which they offer "assistance" in filling out.
Authorities in nearby Philadelphia know about such scams. In one infamous case, a key 1993 race that determined which party would control the Pennsylvania state senate was thrown out by a federal judge after massive evidence that hundreds of voters had been pressured into casting improper absentee ballots. Voters were told by "bearers" that it was all part of "la nueva forma de votar" -- the new way to vote. Local politicos tell me Philly operatives associated in the past with Acorn may now be advising their Jersey cousins on how to perform such vote harvesting.
Reporting from the time confirms event in question actually happened in Philadelphia in 1993. An April 28, 1994, Philadelphia Inquirer article reported (accessed from the Nexis database):
Many [Latino voters in North Philadelphia] are still seething over the way they were treated during last fall's Second Senate District election between Democrat William G. Stinson and Republican Bruce S. Marks.
Stinson campaign workers, knocking door to door in the Puerto Rican neighborhoods of North Philadelphia, misled many voters into thinking that the election law had been changed to allow them to vote from home using absentee ballots.
The campaign workers talked of la nueva forma de votar (the new way to vote). As many as 220 Latinos were duped into casting illegal absentee ballots, according to Inquirer findings, and the controversy eventually landed in federal court.
Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Clarence C. Newcomer removed Stinson from office. On Tuesday, the same judge found enough evidence of electoral fraud to declare Marks the winner, a decision that is being argued in federal appeals court today.
Fund's column provides anonymously sourced speculation that similar incidents "may" occur in New Jersey. Whereas Fund stated as fact on Fox News that "people" are currently telling Hispanics in New Jersey that there is "a new way for you to vote, la nueva forma de votar; just fill out these papers," Fund's Wall Street Journal column makes clear that the possibility of such an event happening this year in New Jersey is pure speculation based on what anonymous "local politicos" purportedly claimed that unnamed "Philly operatives" "may" be doing. Fund wrote: "Local politicos tell me Philly operatives associated in the past with Acorn may now be advising their Jersey cousins on how to perform such vote harvesting."
Unlike in PA in 1993, anyone may vote by mail in 2009 NJ election
PA law at the time limited access to absentee ballots. The "nueva forma de votar" incident referenced by Fund was a scandal at the time in part because Pennsylvania law restricted access to absentee ballots to those unable to vote in person. In his February 18, 1994, ruling overturning Stinson's election, Judge Newcomer noted:
7. Pennsylvania permits a qualified elector to vote by absentee ballot in the event that the elector is, inter alia, absent from the Commonwealth or county of residence "because his duties, occupation or business require him to be elsewhere during the entire period the polls are open" or is physically unable to go to the polls. 25 P.S. § 3146.1(j)&(k).
8. An elector seeking to vote by absentee ballot must submit a proper absentee ballot application, including a statement that the elector expects to be out of the county on Election Day or that [*4] the elector is physically unable to go to the polls, with a declaration stating the nature of the disability and the name, address, and telephone number of the attending physician. 25 P.S. § 3146.2(e)(1)&(2).
According to a December 3, 1993, syndicated column by Mona Charen (accessed from the Nexis database):
As chronicled by the Inquirer, Stinson campaign workers had blanketed Hispanic neighborhoods in the district, telling voters of "la nueva forma de votar," the new way of voting. Vote from the comfort of your own home, they urged. Just sign here.
Pennsylvania law is quite clear. Absentee ballots are legal only for those physically unable to reach the polls because of illness or other disability or those away on business travel. The "new way of voting" was actually a very old way of committing fraud.
By contrast, New Jersey currently allows anyone to vote by mail for any reason. Unlike in Pennsylvania in 1993, it is currently legal for New Jersey voters who are able to vote in person to instead vote by mail. According to the New Jersey Division of Elections website, "In New Jersey, any voter can now vote by mail in any election. You do not need a reason to Vote by Mail. Don't feel like going to the polls? Simply vote by mail."