During the midterm election on Nov. 8, 2022, voters cast their ballots for members of Congress, along with state senators and representatives.
Some people on social media claimed Pennsylvania voters reelected a state representative who died before the election took place. VERIFY readers Ian H. and Allen asked the team to look into whether that’s true.
Was a Pennsylvania state representative reelected after his death?
Yes, a Pennsylvania state representative was reelected after his death, but this isn’t indicative of fraud.
The candidate died nearly a month before Election Day, after ballots were already printed. Pennsylvania law doesn’t allow candidates to be replaced on printed ballots.
WHAT WE FOUND
State Rep. Tony DeLuca, an Allegheny County Democrat who represented Pennsylvania’s 32nd Legislative District for nearly four decades, was reelected by a landslide during the November 2022 election.
As of Friday, Nov. 11, DeLuca had received nearly 86% of the vote over his Green Party challenger Queonia Zarah Livingston, state election results show. But DeLuca died on Oct. 9 – nearly one month before the Pennsylvania election – at 85 years old following a brief battle with lymphoma.
So why was his name still on the ballot? That’s because of Pennsylvania law and doesn’t indicate election fraud, as some have suggested.
In the event of a candidate’s death, state law says replacement candidates can only be submitted before ballots are printed.
Allegheny County sent its data for ballots to the printer on Sept. 28 and ballots began going out from the post office several days later on Oct. 1, county spokesperson Amie Downs told VERIFY.
DeLuca died more than one week after ballots were printed and sent to voters.
A special election will be held to fill DeLuca’s vacant seat following his reelection, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee said in a tweet.
The state holds special elections when someone in office can no longer serve, whether they resign, pass away or are removed from office. Everyone who lives in the candidate’s district can vote in the special election, the state department says.
This isn’t the first time a candidate has been posthumously reelected in Pennsylvania, either, Downs said.
Republican State Sen. James Rhoades was reelected in 2008, despite having died in a car crash on Oct. 18. His seat was later filled by a special election in March 2009.