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Pennsylvania: Election Denial in Races for Election Administration Positions

A collection of examples illustrates the prevalence of election denial in 2022 contests for the offices that will run the next elections in Pennsylvania.

Last Updated: June 29, 2022
Published: March 29, 2022
Illustration featuring the state of Pennsylvania
Brennan Center for Justice
View the entire Election Denial in Races for Election Administration Positions series

Below, we compile quotes from campaigns’ ads, websites, social media posts, and statements reported in the media that illustrate endorsement or opposition to election denial — claims that the process or result of the last presidential election was illegitimate. Each of the candidates is running for an office that will play a role in administering future elections in Pennsylvania. Information about the financing of these campaigns and those in other battleground states can be found here.


Lou Barletta (lost primary)

Lou Barletta (R), a four-term member of Congress, has said that mail ballots allowed fraud in the 2020 elec­tion. He has called for a “full forensic audit,” imply­ing that the state’s admin­is­tra­tion of elec­tion has some­thing to hide. He signed the false Elect­oral College certi­fic­ate that attemp­ted to assign Pennsylvani­a’s elect­ors to Trump.

Lou Barletta Facebook ad

Joe Gale (lost primary)

As a Mont­gomery County commis­sioner, Joe Gale (R) voted not to certify Biden’s win in the county, alleging “irreg­u­lar­it­ies” and “unveri­fied mail-in ballots.” In a Janu­ary 2022 debate, he said there is “no way” Biden received the most votes of any pres­id­en­tial candid­ate.

Charlie Gerow (lost primary) 

Charlie Gerow (R), a public rela­tions exec­ut­ive and polit­ical comment­ator, signed the false Elect­oral College certi­fic­ate that attemp­ted to assign Pennsylvani­a’s elect­ors to Trump. Janu­ary posts from the “Charlie for Governor” Face­book page say “Mail-ins are RIPE for fraud, ” and that Gerow’s prior­it­ies include “Elec­tion Integ­rity because if we can’t get people to trust the vote we have no demo­cracy.”

Doug Mastriano (won primary)

State Sen. Doug Mastri­ano (R) convened public hear­ings about claims of wide­spread elec­tion fraud, talks about the power to “decer­tify” voting machines, and held an event with MyPil­low CEO Mike Lindell — an active spreader of false conspir­acy theories — where attendees were asked to sign a peti­­tion to decer­­­tify the result of the 2020 elec­­tion. Mastriano has said that, as governor, he “can decer­tify every single [voting] machine in the state,” claim­ing that machines from certain compan­ies are “comprom­ised.” Mastri­ano has claimed that there were more votes coun­ted in the elec­tion than there are registered voters in the state and called for an audit. His campaign launch event featured Trump Admin­is­tra­tion National Secur­ity Adviser Michael Flynn and Jenna Ellis, who worked on lawsuits to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion.

Josh Shapiro (won primary)

Pennsylvania Attor­ney General Josh Shapiro (D) has framed his campaign as oppos­ing “people who tried to over­turn the last elec­tion.” Shapiro put out a Face­book ad about attempts to chal­lenge the 2020 vote, saying, “Demo­cracy is on the ballot.” He posted on Face­book in Janu­ary that Trump attemp­ted to “over­turn the 2020 elec­tion and under­mine our demo­cracy.” He also posted: “Lying about the outcome of Pennsylvani­a’s 2020 elec­tion . . . is actively damaging our demo­cracy.” In an interview published in Febru­ary, Shapiro said, “state actors, like a governor, are going to be crit­ical to defend­ing our demo­cracy. . . . And Pennsylvania, I believe, will be at the epicen­ter of that fight.” He vowed to appoint a secret­ary of state “who will respect the rule of law.”

John Ventre (withdrew)

Former UPS executive John Ventre (R) claimed in a Facebook post from January that “Biden stole the 2020 election.” His campaign website features the claim that Pennsylvania’s Act 77 — which made voting easier by allowing no-excuse mail voting and other changes — cost Trump the election in the state.

Dave White (lost primary)

In a campaign ad from former Delaware County Coun­cil Member Dave White (R), the candid­ate says, “If there wasn’t any fraud in the Pennsylvania elec­tion, why every time we call for an audit do the Demo­crats cry like a little baby?” He claims Gov. Tom Wolf was “caught cheat­ing” in the elec­tion, refer­ring to the governor having his wife drop off his marked ballot in viol­a­tion of state law. Another ad ends with White saying: “Every fraudulent vote steals a vote from someone like you.”

Screenshot of TV ad from Dave White's campaign
TV ad from Dave White’s campaign.