Right-wing media lie about expected vote counting delays in Pennsylvania to push false claims of election fraud
Right-wing media are exploiting expected counting delays of mail-in ballots during the midterm elections to create electoral chaos, claiming in advance of Election Day that delayed results would be a sign of election fraud by Democrats. Their focus is narrowing in on Pennsylvania where the Senate race is expected to be close and a 2020 election denier is running on the Republican ticket for governor.
As even Fox News admitted after Election Day in 2020, the reason for the delay in counting mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania is due to the GOP-led legislature. Pennsylvania election law does not allow for mail-in ballots to be counted prior to Election Day, which adds time to determining the winner. And as Philadelphia NPR affiliate WHYY explained, the Republican-controlled state legislature has repeatedly refused to pass a simple law allowing the counting of mail-in ballots prior to Election Day without creating additional hurdles to voting.
Right-wing media are casting doubt on the Pennsylvania election by fearmongering about the validity of mail-in ballots, which is a safe and secure way to vote. In doing so, they are once again trying their 2020 strategy to undermine election results by suggesting that mail-in ballots cannot be trusted due to the length of time it takes to count them. The way the electoral process is currently set up in Pennsylvania and some other states creates a “red mirage” during elections where early returns from votes cast on Election Day favor the GOP candidate, creating the impression of an early lead. Democrats are more likely to vote by mail, and counting mail-in ballots later in the process may seem to shift the results.
But still, right-wing personalities have been repeatedly suggesting that the delay in confirming election results is evidence that they cannot be trusted, using GOP-created gridlock in Pennsylvania as a primary example.
Conservative media attack Pennsylvania vote counting delays, ignoring the state GOP’s role
- On the November 7 edition of Infowars’ The Alex Jones Show, election denier Ali Alexander said “they want to steal elections through the delay,” adding, “imagine Biden’s administration gets to say, well we’re going to wait three or four days on this Pennsylvania election, and then Fetterman pulls it out by a point.”
- In a November 2 appearance on Fox News, James Freeman, an editorial page editor at The Wall Street Journal, said that Pennsylvania needs to reform the process, adding, “This is not a way to encourage confidence in our elections to have these things drag on by design. The secretary of state there warning it could be quite a while until they get a result. This is … really not helpful.”
- Fox host Sean Hannity ignored the fact that the GOP is responsible for the delay in votes, saying on the November 2 edition of his radio show, “We know in Pennsylvania, we're not expecting results perhaps even for days and days and days. Why? There's no excuse for it, but that is what the system is.”
- In response to reports that Pennsylvania officials are saying election results likely wouldn’t be available for days, Hannity said on October 28, “I never trust that.” He added he’s telling Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate nominee Mehmet Oz and Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano “if you guys are listening, you better have poll watchers in every single location. Better pay attention to that.”
- One America News Network host Addison Smith suggested on October 28 that liberal cities were at fault for delays in election results, saying, “Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State Leigh Chapman said that there will likely be delays in publishing the midterm election results. It could take days, she says, delays in posting the results. Why ever could that be? Why is it always the blue cities who take a while to post their election results? It's really interesting when you think about it.”
- OAN’s Dana Alexa said on October 28: “In 2020, it took about four days for Pennsylvania to complete its vote counts, sparking concerns over fraud. Officials have not given any estimates of how long this year's count will take.”
Conservatives also explicitly tied vote counting delays in other states to election fraud, while falsely blaming Democrats
- On the November 3 edition of his radio show, Fox host Dan Bongino claimed that Biden “is prepping ‘the battlefield’” by saying we won't know the results of the midterm elections for several days, adding that the delay allows “the media and Democrat activist groups to sow chaos” and that “Democrats want this.”
- In response to Biden predicting that voters won’t know the winner of several elections on Tuesday night, OAN’s Alison Steinberg said on November 3, “Translation: ‘We may need a few days to manipulate the ballots and vote tallies, just like we did in 2020.’ The red wave is coming and Biden and the rest of the desperate Democrats know it.”
- On November 2, Fox host Tucker Carlson blamed President Joe Biden for “telling you that thanks to the changes, the many changes Democrats have made to our system of voting, all of which make voter fraud easier to commit, we may not know the results of the elections for a few days.” He sarcastically added, “But don’t be alarmed. Everything is completely on the level, and whatever you do, do not ask questions, or else you’re a criminal.”
- As a guest on the November 2 edition of The Alex Jones Show, Turning Point USA contributor Savanah Hernandez fearmongered that the media are “coming forward and trying to let people know ahead of time, hey, we’re not going to know the election results on Election Day, which historically we’ve never seen before. We’re already seeing that propaganda.”
- On the same edition of The Alex Jones Show, commentator Drew Hernandez complained that “they’re already setting the stage, they’re already setting the narrative,” citing Twitter posts which explained that ballots will take days to count, while conspiracy theorist host Alex Jones lied that results have never taken more than a day to count before.
- On the November 1 edition of his radio show, Hannity again raised doubts about vote counting in several states, claiming, “You can never trust the vote counting out in Nevada in my view, just like Milwaukee or Philly or some of the other areas of the country. Fulton or DeKalb County, I always have my suspicions. I can't say for sure, but they're always there.”