MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – A Republican councilman said he deleted an online posting about casting presidential votes via Facebook and Twitter because people didn’t realize he intended it as a joke, but state officials are taking the matter seriously.
“I’m not a comedian. I apparently made a joke that some did not find funny and I accept that,” said Joshua Lorenz when KDKA caught up with him Wednesday afternoon.
No state allows voters to cast ballots via social media, and Pennsylvania’s election oversight agency warned voters not to be misled by posts claiming otherwise. The governor’s office also issued a statement that said efforts to disrupt the election would be prosecuted.
Lorenz, a Pittsburgh attorney and councilman in Murrysville, told The Associated Press the meme – which said, “Vote Hillary November 8th” and “You can vote at home comfortably online” – was meant as a joke for his friends. He said he took down the post within a couple hours Saturday because “the person who had questioned it, who I thought was a friend, had apparently misconstrued it.”
In sharing the image, Lorenz wrote that it was “more proof that the election process is rigged,” according to the online news site Billy Penn. GOP nominee Donald Trump has made similar claims.
Lorenz said he couldn’t believe that anyone would miss that he intended it as a farce.
“Look at the meme itself, ‘You can vote from home comfortably online.’ Who could possibly think that?” he said. “It was a joke on my private page, with my friends. It wasn’t for public consumption.”
Lorenz tells KDKA he never intended to mislead anyone.
“The election is not rigged,” he said. “The electoral process that we have here, as an elected official, I take that very seriously. That’s the bedrock of our democracy.”
Pennsylvania Department of State spokeswoman Wanda Murren said she believed most Pennsylvania voters are aware that the state doesn’t have online voting, but the agency nevertheless tweeted a reminder that voters have only two options: absentee ballot or showing up at the polls on Election Day.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s office issued a statement saying the governor believes “any attempts to disrupt the electoral process should be investigated and prosecuted.”
It’s illegal in Pennsylvania for elected officials to purposely share misinformation about voting and elections. The attorney general’s office said it was told to expect a referral on the matter.
Lorenz said “there’s no way, shape or form that this was intended to be true or meant to influence anyone.”
He added: “It was a joke. That’s the full, complete truth. There is no more.”
Lorenz doesn’t believe he broke the law. He says it was not his intent to mislead voters, but the Attorney General’s Office may take a second look.
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