STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.
Did six people in Pennsylvania die and then register and vote in the 2020 election? No evidence has been provided to back up that claim: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who was quoted in the article as making the claim, did not respond to Lead Stories' request for evidence. The communications director with the Pennsylvania Department of State told Lead Stories that the state does not count ballots from deceased voters and the Pennsylvania Attorney General said similar dead voter claims have so far failed when brought before a judge.
The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by the Western Journal on November 10, 2020, under the title "Sen. Lindsey Graham: How Do 6 People in Pennsylvania Die, Then Register, Then Vote?" It featured a quote attributed to Sen. Graham that said:
But here's the one that gets me: Six people registered after they died and voted. In Pennsylvania, I guess, you're never out of it.
Sen. Graham's statement came during Fox News's 'Sunday Morning Futures' show. Later on in the 7-minute-21-second interview, he refers to "evidence of dead people voting in Pennsylvania."
Lead Stories reached out to three members of his press team, including Kevin Bishop, by phone and email on November 13, 2020 requesting the source of this information, but has not received a response. This story will be updated when they respond, if appropriate.
Wanda Murren, communications director with the Pennsylvania Department of State, told Lead Stories in an email on November 13, 2020, that "a deceased voter's ballot does not count." She explained that county boards of election are regularly sent death notices from such sources as the state's Department of Health. These election boards are responsible for conducting their own vote canvass to rule whether to include or remove challenged ballots and to cross-check tallies against death recordsand other records.
Murren referred Lead Stories to a section in the Pennsylvania Code, which says:
Whenever it shall appear by due proof that any absentee elector or mail-in elector who has returned his ballot in accordance with the provisions of this act has died prior to the opening of the polls on the day of the primary or election, the ballot of such deceased elector shall be rejected by the canvassers but the counting of the ballot of an absentee elector or a mail-in elector thus deceased shall not of itself invalidate any nomination or election.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro tweeted on November 7, 2020:
Every PA ballot has been counted with observers from the campaigns. Every PA ballot has been counted in accordance with the law.
On November 6, 2020, in response to a tweet on the same day by Rudy W. Giuliani alleging that tens of thousands of dead people are on Pennsylvania's voter rolls, Shapiro tweeted:
Would like to see the evidence. A similar complaint was brought before a PA court -- and soundly rejected. The court found no deficiency in how PA maintains its voter rolls, and there is currently no proof provided that any deceased person has voted in the 2020 election.
Registering to vote in Pennsylvania involves completing a 14-part application, which asks for such information as the last four digits of your Social Security number and birthdate. It also includes a warning about filling out this information inaccurately:
I understand that this declaration is the same as an affidavit, and, if this information is not true, I can be convicted of perjury, and fined up to $15,000, jailed for up to seven years, or both.
It is also worth noting that on Pennsylvania's open data website, it explains that some birthdates included in the 2020 General Election Mail Ballot Request dataset will appear as 1/1/1800. This "is due to confidentiality reasons of the registered voters. Usually this is for victims of domestic violence," the website explains.
NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes westernjournal.com as:
A news and opinion site run by Floyd Brown, a conservative activist, author, and consultant. The site has improved its standards but still occasionally publishes misleading information.
According to NewsGuard the site can generally be trusted to maintain journalistic standards. Read their full assessment here.
2020-11-18T19:17:57Z 2020-11-18T19:17:57ZClarification: Lead Stories’ original report failed to distinguish between Sen. Graham's failure to respond to requests for evidence and Western Journal's publication - without corroborating evidence - of Graham's claim. Although Western Journal's article did not furnish evidence to support the claim, Lead Stories had not reached out to Western Journal to ask on what evidence it published the claim. The lead paragraph has been revised accordingly.
2020-11-14T04:08:09Z 2020-11-14T04:08:09ZUpdated to more precisely describe Pennsylvania Attorney General's reference to claims dead Pennsylvanians voted.