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Temporary contractor mistakenly discarded ‘small number’ of mail-in ballots cast for Trump in Pennsylvania

A temporary contractor working in Pennsylvania mistakenly tossed a “small number” of military mail-in ballots cast for President Trump — an incident recently seized on by the White House in a bid to cast doubt on the security of voting by mail in November



In this May 28, 2020, file photo, mail-in primary election ballots are processed at the Chester County Voter Services office in West Chester, Pa. Pennsylvania’s highest court on Thursday, Sept. 17, handed victories to the Democratic Party in an election-related lawsuit that sought favorable fixes to glitches and gray areas in the battleground state’s fledgling mail-in voting law.


© Matt Rourke
In this May 28, 2020, file photo, mail-in primary election ballots are processed at the Chester County Voter Services office in West Chester, Pa. Pennsylvania’s highest court on Thursday, Sept. 17, handed victories to the Democratic Party in an election-related lawsuit that sought favorable fixes to glitches and gray areas in the battleground state’s fledgling mail-in voting law.

“Democrats are playing games, you see that, they, you see they found ballots in a wastepaper basket, they found ballots dumped in a stream,” the President said during an appearance in Atlanta on Friday.

Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri in a statement also released Friday shed more light on the incident seemingly referenced by Trump. He explained that an issue with nine military ballots was caused by a “temporary seasonal independent contractor” who “incorrectly discarded (the ballots) into the office trash” during their first three days on the job.

On the third day, Luzerne County Elections Director Shelby Watchilla became aware of the error and “immediately began an internal inquiry and informed her direct supervisor,” Pedri said in a statement obtained by ABC News.

“The temporary independent contractor was removed from service and informed not to return,” he added.

Following the internal probe, Watchilla contacted the Luzerne County Office of Law, which forwarded a request to the district attorney’s office.

All the trash tossed during the contractor’s three days of work was gathered by county officials and then secured.

“Each bag of garbage from the entire building in the dumpster was searched by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police as well as Luzerne County staff. All items of concern were taken into custody by the Federal Bureau of Investigations,” Pedri said.

Pedri also said county officials did not know which candidate was selected on the ballots until the Justice Department publicly disclosed the information earlier this week. Seven of the nine were cast for Trump.

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