County officials have revealed that a temporary contractor in the war-torn state of Pennsylvania accidentally threw mail-in ballots in the trash for President Donald Trump.
A top federal prosecutor announced Thursday that his office has launched an investigation into a small number of discarded mail-in ballots cast in the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election.
The incident drew the attention of Trump, who claimed that mail-in voting could not be trusted and was prone to fraud.
The Lucerne County Elections Bureau said it stemmed from an administrative error and that county officials did not know who to vote for until the Justice Department revealed it earlier this week.
A U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Pennsylvania is investigating nine ballots that were ignored in the state, seven of which were votes for President Donald Trump. County officials said Friday that the temporary worker accidentally dropped the votes in the trash
Pennsylvania is a key battlefield state in the 2020 election
The temporary independent contractor was ‘mistakenly ignored in the office garbage UMOVA ballots’, said Lucerne County Manager C. David Pedri said in a statement Friday.
UMOVA is an abbreviated form for the ballots of military and foreign voters.
Ballots were found in a dumpster next to the election building.
Pedris said labor began on Sept. 14, but the error was discovered two days later by Lucerne County election director Shelby Vachilla.
‘Kumari. Vachilla immediately began an internal investigation and informed his direct supervisor. The temporary independent contractor was fired and told not to return, ”Pedri said.
Vachilla contacted the Luzern County Office of Law and advised that the matter should be investigated and reported to the authorities.
Then a request was made to the district attorney’s office.
During the contractor’s three days in office, Lucerne County staff stored all the rubbish from the Elections Bureau in a dumpster, Pedri said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lucerne County District Attorney’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police and Lucerne County staff searched the garbage bag from the entire building in Dumpster. All issues of concern have been taken into custody by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, ”he wrote.
In a very extraordinary public statement Thursday, U.S. Attorney David Fried for the Pennsylvania Middle District said his office and the FBI were contacted by Lucerne County District Attorney Stephanie Salvantis on Monday at the Lucerne County Board of Elections ‘ballots’ about “potential issues with a small number of mails”. ‘
He said his office could verify that ‘a small number of military ballots’ had been ignored.
‘Of the nine ballots that were ignored and later recovered, seven were cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump. Lucerne election staff returned the two discarded ballots in their appropriate envelopes before the FBI recovered them, and the contents of those two ballots are unknown, ‘he added.
Ballots of military and foreign voters were found in a dumpster outside the building
“Our investigation has revealed that almost all or almost all of the envelopes found in the election office were actually open,” Fried said.
‘Envelopes used for official foreign, military, absentee and mail-in ballot requests have been explained to researchers, and staff believe they will lose such ballot requests if they adhere to a protocol for preserving unopened envelopes.
In an earlier statement posted online, Fried’s office said it had initially cast a total of nine ballots for Trump. This link was abruptly removed later Thursday and a revised notice was issued.
Fried office spokesman Dan Clark said the ballots were not ‘properly opened’ by county staff.
News of Trump’s investigation in Pennsylvania by a margin of 44,000 votes in 2016 will fuel Trump’s efforts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the upcoming election.
He often stressed that widespread mail-in voting can lead to fraud. Democrats encouraged Americans to vote by mail to ensure safe voting during the COVID-19 epidemic.
Attorney General William Barr, who was properly pictured with Trump, explained to the president about the ballots that were discarded before the investigation was unveiled Thursday.
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ABC reports that Attorney General William Barr personally briefed the president on the ballots shortly before the investigation was announced.
Speaking at the White House on Thursday, Trump said there were ballots in his name on what was found in the waste paper basket.
‘We want to make sure the election is honest and I am not sure it will happen. I don’t know if this is the whole situation, with unsolicited ballots, “Trump said.
He later spoke on Fox News Radio, where he argued that mail-in voting could lead to widespread fraud in the election.
‘They were Trump ballots – eight ballots in an office yesterday – but in a certain state and they – they wrote Trump on it, and threw them in the trash. That’s what’s going on, “Trump said in an interview.
‘It’s going on, we’re looking into it. “
The statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Pennsylvania did not mention “fraud.”
White House critics say the incident is being used politically to promote Trump.
‘This is an ongoing investigation, there are no public interest reasons to override the general policy of not commenting here – and especially not saying who the ballots were cast for. An unprecedented contribution to the President’s campaign, “said Matthew Miller, former director of the Justice Department’s public affairs office.
The Trump team, however, continued to push the story as evidence.
‘Democrats are trying to steal the election,’ tweeted Matt Wolking, deputy director of communications and rapid response to the Trump campaign.
Earlier this week, Trump said he did not know who would win the presidency on election day – predicting a long ‘conflict’ between the two parties in a week when he refused to commit to peaceful transfer of power. .
Trump’s remarks about a competitive election made during a speech in Atlanta coincide with what many political observers warn.
It has followed its own repeated attacks on mail-in voting and Thursday’s election will not be ‘honest’.
‘I don’t know now with these ballot conditions,’ he said, addressing black economic empowerment.
‘You’re not going to see this November 3rd. Democrats are playing games. You will see, ‘said Trump.
He told the audience: ‘But if it’s not November 3, you’re going to raise your hand, hopefully shortly. I know you are going to raise your hand, we may be in conflict with me for a long time, because that is the way they want it.
‘But we’re going to win, that’s for sure,’ Trump said.
He ridiculed the idea of going beyond the constitutional limit.
‘I told you he was a dictator! He does not relinquish power! Trump said. ‘He will not relinquish power under any circumstances. He expects to serve at least two words. ‘
Then about the comments that Trump had ‘a little bit of irony’ and ‘Twelve years!’
His supporters shouted ‘Twelve years!’
He advertised as he attacked mail-in voting, a method used by millions of Americans, to show Joe Biden’s unequal share in voting by polls.
According to ABC Ballot envelopes will not open until the canvas is done.
Until such time counties are expected to properly store and maintain the security of returned ballots.
The county is now ‘consulting the participating voters and trying to process their votes,’ Pedri said.
They plan to provide additional training to all staff and to set up a security camera in the Election Bureau to ‘actively monitor and ensure that all staff adhere to proper procedures and protocols’.
FBI Director Christopher Wray recently discussed fraudulent voting and said it was never seen in a big election.
“Historically, we have not seen any coordinated national voter fraud attempt in a major election, whether by mail or not,” he said during a Senate hearing on Thursday.
Fried said in a statement that his office investigation was ‘ongoing’.