Fact check: At Pennsylvania rally, Trump makes four false claims about voting in the state

Fact check: At Pennsylvania rally, Trump makes four false claims about voting in the state

President Donald Trump has made a habit of lying about the integrity of the election. And in the first of his three Monday events in Pennsylvania, he made four false claims about voting in the state.

Speaking in Allentown, Trump made a significant false claim about supposed election fraud in Philadelphia during the 2012 election. And he made three separate false claims related to the 2020 election.

Supposed fraud in Philadelphia

As he did during his 2016 campaign, Trump made a vague allegation of nefarious election-related activities in Philadelphia. He suggested it was suspicious that Republican candidate Mitt Romney got “almost zero votes” there in 2012.

Trump asked: “How do you get zero votes in a city?”

Facts First: It’s not true that Romney got zero votes, or even “almost” zero votes, in Philadelphia; he got 96,467 votes, about 14% of the city total. Rather, Romney got zero votes in 50 of the city’s 1,687 voting “divisions,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. There is no basis for Trump’s suggestion that the results in these divisions are evidence of fraud.

Leading Republicans in the city have said for years that Romney’s failure to win any votes in these particular areas is not evidence of fraud. The Republicans who have dismissed the conspiracy theories include Joe DeFelice, the former leader of Philadelphia’s Republican City Committee — whom Trump appointed in 2017 to a post in the federal government.

Why did Romney do so badly? There were very few registered Republicans in the 50 districts — sometimes fewer than 20, the Inquirer has reported — and the areas were overwhelmingly populated by Black residents. Romney was running against President Barack Obama, the first Black president.

“You had a rich, white Republican running against a Black Democrat,” DeFelice told the Inquirer in 2016.

Local Republican ward leader Denise Furey told the Inquirer she was unsurprised that Romney did not get any votes in two of her 23 divisions. “What we found in the Obama races was a lot of people who would typically vote Republican voted for Mr. Obama,” she said. “That is not surprising to me.”

Ballots in 2020

While criticizing Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, Trump warned the crowd: “The governor counts the ballots.” He said later in the speech, “This is the guy that’s counting our ballots? It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work.”

Facts First: Wolf does not count the ballots and is not in charge of the ballots. Local county officials send out the ballots and then count the votes.

Also, Pennsylvania’s top elections official is Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar. She is a Wolf appointee, but she is not Wolf.

A dispute about Trump monitors

Trump claimed, “Did you see where they fought us because they didn’t want poll watchers? They took us to court.”

Facts First: This is false; Pennsylvania did not take the Trump campaign to court over the issue Trump was referring to. Rather, the Trump campaign itself sued the county of Philadelphia in an attempt to get access for campaign representatives to be present in satellite election offices where people can request mail-in ballots, receive them on the spot, and, if they want, fill them out and submit them. Trump representatives were denied access to such offices in late September.

The Trump campaign described the representatives as “poll watchers,” but they were not certified as such. (And even certification, which is required of all Pennsylvania poll watchers, does not grant poll watchers the right to monitor satellite offices, according to the state.)

The ruling

A judge ruled against the Trump campaign earlier this month. Trump called the decision “bad,” and said of the judge: “But he said, ‘No, you can’t have poll watchers.’ So he’s saying we can’t even watch as they count the ballots.” He continued: “Can you believe it? We can’t have poll watchers, the judge said. They fought us on that. They didn’t want people watching them count. Who ever heard of a thing like this?”

Facts First: The judge, Gary Glazer, did not say the Trump campaign could not watch ballots being counted, and he did not say the campaign could not have poll watchers at all. Rather, Glazer simply ruled that poll watchers were not permitted to observe activities at these satellite offices — at which, he pointed out, no votes are actually counted. The Trump campaign is still entitled to have poll watchers certified for Election Day and still entitled to observe the vote count.

Glazer wrote that the satellite offices did not qualify as polling places.

“The only activities occurring at the satellite offices are voter registration, application for mail-in ballots by individual voters, provision of mail-in ballots to individual voters, private completion of mail-in ballots by individual voters, and delivery by individual voters of their own mail-in ballots. No canvassing, re-canvassing, opening, counting, recounting, computation, or recording of ballots, votes, or voting machines is occurring at the satellite offices,” he wrote.

An appeals court upheld the decision last week.

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