Right-wing media question integrity of Pennsylvania’s election by conflating mail-in ballot applications with mail-in ballots

372,000 applications for mail-in ballots were reportedly rejected in Pennsylvania. Most of those requests were from people who already signed up to receive mail-in ballots.

After a ProPublica report revealed that mail-in ballot applications were overwhelming the system in Pennsylvania, with many requests getting rejected because they were duplicates, Fox & Friends, Turning Point USA President Charlie Kirk, The Blaze, and other pro-Trump media pushed a false claim that the story was about ballots. ProPublica reported that one voter submitted 11 requests to vote by mail -- not that anyone received 11 ballots.

Pennsylvania has rejected 372,000 applications for mail-in ballots. Most were rejected because voters did not realize they had already requested a mail-in ballot.

Many voters requesting a mail-in ballot had already checked the appropriate box.

Pennsylvania, one of the most hotly contested battlegrounds in the presidential election, has rejected 372,000 requests for mail-in ballots, straining election offices and bewildering voters.

More than 90% of those applications, or about 336,000, were denied as duplicates, primarily because people who had requested mail-in ballots for the state’s June 2 primary did not realize that they had checked a box to be sent ballots for the general election, too. Voters have also been baffled by unclear or inaccurate information on the state’s ballot-tracking website, and by a wave of mail ballot applications from political parties and get-out-the-vote groups. County offices across the state have been forced to hire temporary staff and work seven days a week to cope with the confusion.


Though it may deter some people from voting, the mass rejection of ballot applications is unlikely to have a big effect on turnout. Voters who submitted duplicate applications should eventually receive a ballot. Those who don’t can still vote at the polls on Election Day.

Overall, one out of every five requests for a mail-in ballot are being rejected in Pennsylvania. An estimated 208,000 Pennsylvania voters sent in the spurned requests, some submitting them multiple times. Although the state’s email rejecting the requests describes them as duplicates, it doesn’t explain why, prompting some people to reapply. ProPublica and The Philadelphia Inquirer identified hundreds of voters who submitted three or more duplicate applications; one voter appears to have submitted 11 duplicates. [ProPublica and The Philadelphia Inquirer; 10/16/20]


Many of the applications in question were sent to voters by nongovernmental entities:

Nongovernmental groups have inundated Pennsylvania voters with mail-in ballot applications, making it easy to request ballots — and contributing to the flood of duplicates. Voters often believe these unsolicited and sometimes inaccurate applications come directly from elections offices. Some voters are filling them out even if they’ve previously submitted a ballot application.

These groups have created “confusion for voters and the likelihood that voters will not realize their application has been processed and they don’t need to submit another one,” said the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections. It added that “some voters may have forgotten that they opted to be put on the annual mail ballot list when they applied for a ballot for the June primary.” [ProPublica and The Philadelphia Inquirer; 10/16/20]

Right-wing media manipulate the story, falsely claiming that 372,000 ballots — rather than applications — have been rejected. The lies are currently spreading on Twitter and Facebook without any apparent correction.

Fox & Friends' verified Facebook’s page wrote: “More than 370K Pennsylvania mail-in ballots not accepted because most were duplicates.” The post was shared 11,000 times. [Facebook, Fox & Friends verified page, 10/16/20]

Fox & Friends PA ballot applications

Turning Point USA's Charlie Kirk: “Pennsylvania just rejected 372,000 mail-in ballots." [Twitter, 10/17/20]

Charlie Kirk PA Ballots

The Blaze: “Pennsylvania rejects 372,000 mail-in ballots, leaving many voters confused: report.” [Twitter, 10/17/20, 10/17/20]

The Blaze PA Ballots 1

The Gateway Pundit: “ELECTION FRAUD: Pennsylvania Rejects 334,000 Duplicate Ballots Already – Kentucky Reports Bins of Ballots Discarded.” [Gateway Pundit, 10/17/20; Facebook, 10/17/20]

The National Pulse: “Pennsylvania Rejects Nearly 400,000 Mail-In Ballots.” [The National Pulse, 10/16/20; Facebook, 10/16/20]

National Pulse PA ballots