Monday, November 01, 2010

Beck falsely claims Rep. Patrick Murphy illegally solicited "absentee ballot[s]"

Glenn Beck falsely claimed that Rep. Patrick Murphy's campaign solicited voters to send the campaign their absentee ballots by mail, and suggested that such actions should "put you guys in jail." In fact, Democrats in Murphy's district solicited absentee ballot applications, not absentee ballots, and their actions were legal, according to two state agencies.

Beck falsehood: Murphy should be "in jail" after soliciting "absentee ballot[s]"

On his Fox News show, Glenn Beck claimed that Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) had solicited "absentee ballot[s]" from voters and that "doing stuff like this should put you guys in jail." From the November 1 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: Every shady voting trick is being pulled out. In Pennsylvania, voters in the 8th district got this in the mail. This is amazing. They warned that hey, you should have received a notice from our office; our records indicate that you have not responded. Yeah. It's warning them - the voters - that their ability to vote will be in jeopardy unless they return the enclosed absentee ballot. This is from the Pennsylvania voter assistance office. It's fictitious. Prepaid envelope. Actually, when you put your ballot in, it sends it back to a POBox belonging to Tim Persico. Campaign manager for a Democrat Patrick Murphy. Patrick, you should be ashamed of yourself. Quite honestly, doing stuff like this should put you guys in jail.

Murphy campaign, local Democrats did not solicit and obtain actual absentee ballots

Local Democratic Party solicited absentee ballot applications, not ballots. The letters sent to Pennsylvania voters by the Bucks County Democratic Party reportedly asked them to submit an absentee ballot application, which would be sent to "Pennsylvania Voter Assistance Office," which was a post office box operated by Democrats. These applications would then be submitted to the state, which would send absentee ballots to the voters who applied for them.

Elections official: County would not accept actual absentee ballots submitted by third parties. In an interview with The American Prospect's Adam Serwer, Bucks County Board of Elections and Voter Registration Director Deena Dean said, "Third parties are permitted to submit absentee applications to our office... If you walked in with your neighbor's application, we would take it; if you walked in with your neighbor's absentee ballot, we would not take it, and that's the law."

State officials: Democrats' actions are legal

Officials tell media the letters "appear to comply with state election law." On October 22, the Bucks County Courier Times reported, "Pennsylvania Department of State spokeswoman Leslie Amoros said the state election code permits third parties to gather applications for absentee ballots and then submit them to the local board of elections." Similarly, on October 20, The Morning Call reported, "Chet Harhut, commissioner of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation, said the office has not received any complaints about the letters, and that they appear to comply with state election law."

Fox has repeatedly hyped stories of "voter fraud" allegedly carried out by Democrats

Baier vowed that Fox News will cover voter fraud allegations "in every show." After airing a report on various allegations of voter fraud on an October 31 special edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier concluded that "we'll be following this in every show."

Fox has relentlessly hyped GOP-linked accusations of voter fraud, regardless of their credibility. As Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, Fox News has promoted many allegations of voter fraud supposedly carried out by Democrats and left-wing groups, no matter how little evidence exists to support these claims.

Fox has voter fraud email tip line. As Talking Points Memo noted, on October 28, Fox News announced that it "has set up an e-mail to collect viewer complaints over voter fraud ahead of the midterm elections." The email address is

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