Federal law enforcement have ordered a county in Pennsylvania to change its election practices after multiple military ballots were found discarded, with all open discarded ballots marked with a vote for President Trump.
"The FBI has recovered a number of documents relating to military ballots that had been improperly opened by your elections staff, and had the ballots removed and discarded, or removed and placed separately from the envelope containing confidential voter information and attestation," U.S. Attorney David J. Freed said in a letter to Shelby Watchilla, Director of Elections of Luzerne County Bureau of Elections. "Specifically, a total of nine (9) military ballots were discovered to have been discarded. Seven (7) of those ballots when discovered by investigators were outside of any envelope. Those ballots were all cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump. One (1) of those seven (7) ballots was able to be identified to an envelope that was recovered, and thereby potentially tied to a specific voter. Two (2) military ballots that had been discarded were previously recovered by elections staff, reinserted into what appeared to be their appropriate envelopes, and then resealed. Therefore, the votes cast on those two (2) ballots are unknown. Thus, is appears that three (3) of the nine (9) recovered ballots can be potentially attributed to specific voters. Six (6) of the ballots were simply removed and discarded, and cannot be attributed to a specific voter at this time."
The letter called the findings "troubling" and said reminded Luzerne County that it must comply with all state and federal laws.
"Even though your staff has made some attempts to reconstitute certain of the improperly opened ballots, there is no guarantee that any of these votes will be counted in the general election," the letter continued. "While the assigned investigators are continuing their work including reviewing additional discarded materials, it is imperative that the issues identified be corrected."
The incident follows continued insistence from the Trump administration that increased mail-in voting opens up opportunity for fraud.
"Those things are delivered into mailboxes. They can be taken out," Attorney General William Barr said during an interview on Fox News. "There's questions about whether or not it even denies a secret ballot, because a lot of the states have you signing the outside of the envelope. So, the person who opens the envelope will know how people voted."