Fact-checking: Has Philadelphia claimed a “lazy history of electoral integrity” as its trump card?


President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed, without providing evidence, that widespread fraud is taking place in Philadelphia – a Democratic stronghold that helped put former Vice President Joe Biden at the top of the contested state’s presidential race.

The allegation

On Friday afternoon, the President tweeted a quote attributed to Fox News anchor Stuart Varney in which he claimed that Philadelphia “has a terrible history of electoral integrity.

âPhiladelpiha has a terrible history in election integrity.â @Varneyco @FoxBusiness

– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2020

The facts

Election fraud is not unknown in the city, but experts said the president’s statement was not entirely correct, especially in today’s political environment.

“Sure, there was fraud in the urban political machineries then – of Chicago and Boston and Philadelphia – but that has really changed significantly with the reforms that were implemented after 1950,” Jeffrey Carroll, an assistant professor of political science at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, told Washington Newsday.

One of the biggest fraud cases in the city was in 1993, when a federal judge had to overturn the results of a state senate election after it was discovered that Democrats had rigged hundreds of absentee ballots.

Robin Kolodny, chairman of the political science department at Temple University in Philadelphia, said that officials in the area changed almost everything in the election process after the 1993 race.

“Everything has changed,” she said on Newsday in Washington. “People have changed, laws have changed, equipment has changed and practices have changed.

Philadelphia has seen a handful of other issues about election integrity in recent years, but none at the presidential level.

In March, a former Philadelphia election judge admitted accepting bribes to manipulate the results of the primary elections over several years. The judge, Domenick Demuro, was convicted for his “role in accepting bribes to falsify ballot papers and confirm false election results” during the 2014, 2015 and 2016 primaries in Philadelphia.

In 2017, there was a fraud case in the city during a special election for a Philadelphia state seat. The Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, accused polling officials at one location of intimidating voters, submitting forged ballots and falsely confirming the results.

“Although there is no evidence that the election results were influenced by the actions of these individuals, we must protect the sanctity of the Pennsylvania election at all costs,” Shapiro said at the time.

Carroll, the political scientist, said he considered the two instances “outliers” because “the electoral apparatus in Philadelphia has been improved and is highly professionalized.

I see no real merit in the president’s accusations.
Robin Kolodny, chairman of the political science faculty at Temple University

The president was again the leader in this state in 2020 when the ballots were counted on November 3. However, his lead steadily decreased as postal ballots were counted in the days following the election, especially those from Philadelphia. On Friday evening, Trump in Pennsylvania was trailing Biden with about 20,000 votes.

“This is definitely more about math than fraud,” said Carroll, noting that the number of registered Democrats far exceeds the number of registered Republicans in the city.

Kolodny agreed with this and added, “This is definitely more about math than fraud”: “I see no real merit in the president’s accusations.

This is also not the first time Trump has made derogatory remarks about the Philadelphia election process. During his 2016 election campaign, Trump said he had heard “horror shows” about stolen votes in the city.

“I only hear such reports about Philadelphia,” Trump said at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, just weeks before the 2016 race, “Everyone knows what I’m talking about.”

Trump won Pennsylvania four years ago by less than one percentage point, although he was clearly beaten by Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia County by more than 475,000 votes.

The verdict

At least partially true, although none at the level of the president.

So far, Pennsylvania officials have repeatedly stated in the 2020 elections that there is no evidence of fraud in the state. Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania called Trump’s allegations “disturbing


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