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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke November 10, 2022

Deceased lawmaker’s re-election isn’t evidence of fraud, it was too late to withdraw his name

If Your Time is short

  • The deadline to withdraw a candidate’s name from the general election ballot in Pennsylvania was Aug. 15. State Rep. Anthony “Tony” DeLuca, D-Penn Hills, died about two months later. He was re-elected, but a special election will be called to fill the vacancy.

A tweet that said "Democrat Pennsylvania State Rep. Anthony DeLuca wins reelection despite being dead" is accurate. But how that news is being framed by some social media users is where things get more complicated. 

"Dead man on the ballot but they pretend there’s no cheating," one Instagram post said. 

It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

DeLuca, the longest-serving state representative in Pennsylvania, died from lymphoma on Oct. 9. A month later, on Election Day, DeLuca overwhelmingly won the election for his seat. More than 21,000 votes were cast for the Democrat, more than six times the number of votes cast for his opponent, Zarah Livingston, according to unofficial election results.

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But DeLuca’s appearance on the ballot is a legal technicality; he wasn’t there because the Democratic Party was seeking to elect a deceased politician to represent the constituents of Pennsylvania’s 32nd Legislative District. 

The deadline for candidates to withdraw their names passed on Aug. 15, 2022, before DeLuca died. A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Department told PolitiFact that "once ballots have been printed for a general election, there is no mechanism in the election code for removing a candidate’s name from the ballot and providing for a substitute nominee." 

The seat will be filled following a special election. 

We rate claims that DeLuca’s win is evidence of election fraud False.


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