Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney recently came under fire from both Democrats and the heads of General Motors and Chrysler for ads that falsely implied an automaker rescued by Obama is now shipping American jobs to China.

The Obama campaign has also told its share of whoppers, including claiming that Romney plans to outlaw all abortions when he has clearly stated his support for exceptions in the case of rape, incest and a threat to the life of the mother.

Fringe presidential candidate Randall Terry, an anti-abortion activist, is able to sidestep decency laws and air gruesome ads depicting aborted foetuses by turning it into protected political speech.

One ad declares that "a vote for Obama helps Muslims murder Christians and Jews" after showing images of decapitated and bloodied bodies.

Most of the dirtiest tricks - many of which are illegal - are carried out by third parties. The list of known incidents is long:

- Voters in the crucial swing states of Florida and Virginia reported calls from fraudsters telling them they could cast their ballot by phone.

- The FBI is investigating letters sent to voters in Florida, many of whom were Republican, falsely claiming that election officials were questioning their citizenship.

- The Republican National Committee fired a voter registration firm long dogged by allegations of fraud after reports surfaced in September that it submitted forged forms in Florida, Colorado and Nevada.

- Another Republican contractor, Colin Small, was fired last month after he was caught tossing registration forms from Democrats in Virginia into a dumpster.

- The Democratic National Committee fired Texas staffer Stephanie Caballero after an undercover video showed her giving advice on how to vote in two states.

- The son of Virginia Congressman Jim Moran, a Democrat, resigned after the same muckraker caught him on tape talking about how to cast ballots under someone else's name.

- Billboards warning "voter fraud is a felony" in predominantly African American and Hispanic neighborhoods in the battleground state of Ohio were taken down last month after complaints they were aimed at intimidating voters.

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