A top federal prosecutor in the battleground state of Pennsylvania said on Thursday his office had launched an investigation into a small number of discarded mail-in ballots cast in the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election.
In a highly unusual public statement, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, David Freed, said his office and the FBI were contacted on Monday by Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis amid concerns about ‘potential issues with a small number of mail-in ballots at the Luzerne County Board of Elections.’
He said his office could confirm that a ‘small number of military ballots’ were discarded.
‘Of the nine ballots that were discarded and then recovered, seven were cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump. Two of the discarded ballots had been resealed inside their appropriate envelopes by Luzerne elections staff prior to recovery by the FBI and the contents of those two ballots are unknown,’ he added.
In an earlier statement posted online, Freed’s office had originally claimed all nine ballots had been cast for Trump. The link was abruptly removed later in the day on Thursday, and a revised statement was issued.
Dawn Clark, a spokeswoman for Freed’s office, said the ballots ‘were improperly opened’ by county staff.
The news about the investigation in Pennsylvania, a state Trump carried in 2016 by 44,000 votes, could add fuel to Trump’s efforts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the upcoming election.
He has often asserted, without evidence, that widespread mail-in voting will lead to fraud. Democrats, meanwhile, have encouraged voting by mail so that Americans can safely vote during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the White House on Thursday, Trump said there had been ballots with his name on them found in a waste-paper basket.
‘We want to make sure the election is honest and I’m not sure that it can be. I don’t know that it can be with this whole situation, unsolicited ballots,’ Trump said.
Freed said in his statement that his office’s inquiry ‘remains ongoing.’
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Source: Daily Mail