"Voter fraud is a real concern" - Gossip site TMZ accused of false reporting in US election story

The investigative journalism website ProPublica claims TMZ misrepresented the opinions of election officials in an article

"Voter fraud is a real concern" - Gossip site TMZ accused of false reporting in US election story

Americans go to the polls in Utah's Salt Lake City in 2012 [AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File]

After the Hollywood gossip website TMZ ran a story on its website claiming that some US electoral officials were worried that the “flawed process” would be open to voter fraud, an investigation by the ProPublica research group found that TMZ had misrepresented their quotes.

TMZ’s story, which was published on Tuesday, suggests that counties and states, charged with maintaining the integrity of November 8th presidential election, “are increasingly using signature verification in place of Ids. The article goes on to name three election commissioners from New York and California, each of who are linked to statements about growing concerns that voter fraud could take place.

“Short story,” the TMZ article conclude, “Voter fraud is a real concern.”

But in interviews with ProPublica, two of the named elections commissioners said that their opinions had been misrepresented by TMZ. Marcy Crawford, deputy commissioner of the board of elections for Allegany County, said when speaking to TMZ she had “heard talk” of worry over voter fraud elsewhere, but that “she had no concerns about actual fraud in her southern New York County, nor does anyone else in her office.”

TMZ, on the other hand, reported that Crawford “tells us voter fraud in her county is a real concern. She says everyone’s talking about it in her office.” One of Crawford’s colleagues, who sat in on the interview carried out by TMZ, confirms her story as told to ProPublica.

John Arntz, a director of elections in San Francisco, who told TMZ about how voters names are checked on the electoral register using their home address, also says the website misrepresented him. In TMZ’s article, his paragraph concludes with “Arntz concedes that it leaves the system open to fraud,” but he told ProPublica that he never said he had concerns about fraud and that the last line was falsely attributed to him.

While ProPublica did speak to the third named election official, he would not comment on whether TMZ had correctly attributed an opinion to him, but Suffolk County Elections Commissioner Nick LaLota did express concerns about how American elections are organised. “Our election inspectors are being asked to ensure the integrity of the election with one hand tied behind their back,” he told ProPublica.

While TMZ, which was founded by Harvey Levein, regularly comes under fire for its trade in Hollywood gossip and scoops, it is also often credited for breaking accurate stories that are regularly picked up by international media outlets.

Responding to questions from ProPublica, a TMZ representative said the website “stands behind our story and it accurately reflects the information we provided.”

For more politics news on Newstalk.com, please click here.