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Politics Temporary contractor threw Trump mail-in ballots in trash, Pa. county officials say

05:40  26 september  2020
05:40  26 september  2020 Source:   abcnews.go.com

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Election officials in Luzerne County have been cooperative. "Our inquiry remains ongoing and we expect later today to share our up to date findings with officials in Luzerne County . White House Press Secretary @KayleighMcEnany on mail - in ballots discarded in Pennsylvania , where 100% of

Updated: 25 Sep 2020, 2:12. MAIL - in ballots cast for Donald Trump were found trashed in Freed confirmed that a "small number of military ballots ," including seven for the president, were thrown out. Following the news, Trump tweeted: "Cheating on Unsolicited Ballots by political hacks, or

An incident regarding "a small number" of discarded mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania -- which has sparked a Department of Justice investigation and drawn the attention of President Donald Trump -- appears to be rooted in an administrative error by a temporary contractor working at the Luzerne County Elections Bureau, according to the county manager.

Donald Trump holding a sign: President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Atlanta. © John Bazemore/AP President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Atlanta.

He 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.

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Election officials in Luzerne County have been cooperative. At this point we can confirm that a small number of military ballots were discarded. The development comes as U.S. Postal Service officials are investigating trays of mail discovered in a ditch in Greenville, Wisconsin, on Tuesday.

Mail - in voting sparks debate in PA . The presidential election is less than eight weeks away and all Republicans have generally resisted calls for mail - in ballots due to concerns surrounding potential fraud More than 100,000 ballots could be thrown out as a result of the decision, according to Lisa

Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri said in a statement issued Friday that a temporary independent contractor who was assigned to sort mail at the elections bureau "incorrectly discarded into the office trash UMOVA ballots," which is an acronym for ballots from military and overseas voters. The U.S. Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Pennsylvania said on Thursday that nine ballots had been found in a dumpster next to the elections building with seven cast for Trump and the other two resealed inside their envelopes.

"Luzerne County Elections staff were unaware for whom the ballots were cast until the disclosure via Press Release of the United States Attorney on September 24, 2020," the statement reads.

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are tossed in the trash in every election on the basis of handwriting comparisons made by officials who are not trained in the art, a Sonoma County man and According to state data, nearly 58 percent of the 14 million Californians who voted in the November 2016 general election mailed in their ballots .

While Democrats are encouraging voting by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump continues to attack the process and vehemently insists, without evidence Temporary contractor threw Trump mail - in ballots in trash , Pennsylvania county officials say . ABC News.

MORE: Barr briefed Trump on investigation into discarded Pennsylvania ballots

The temporary employee began working at the elections bureau on Sept. 14, Pedri said, and the mistake was discovered by Luzerne County Elections Director Shelby Watchilla two days later.

"Ms. Watchilla immediately began an internal inquiry and informed her direct supervisor. The temporary independent contractor was removed from service and informed not to return," Pedri said in the statement.

Following the internal inquiry, Watchilla "contacted Luzerne County Office of Law who researched the matter and advised that this needed to be reported to the authorities," after which a request was made to the district attorney's office.

Donald Trump standing in front of a sign: President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Atlanta. © John Bazemore/AP President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Atlanta.

Pedri said "all garbage from the Elections Bureau" that accumulated during the three-day period of the independent contractor's employment "was placed in a dumpster and secured by Luzerne County staff."

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Officials have repeatedly said that the agency is equipped to handle a surge in mail - in voting, with Mr. DeJoy telling a board meeting last Friday that the Postal Service “has ample capacity to deliver all election mail securely and on time in accordance with our delivery standards.”

Trump has requested a mail - in ballot for Florida’s primary election Tuesday. Ballots were mailed Wednesday to both the president and first lady Melania Trump at the Mar-a-Lago resort, which Trump lists as his legal address , according to online Palm Beach County elections records.

"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," he wrote.

Ballot envelopes cannot be opened until the canvass is under way, and it is incumbent on counties to properly store and maintain the security of returned ballots, according to the Pennsylvania Election Code. Pedri said Luzerne County "will attempt to contact the voters involved and process their votes."

MORE: US attorney in battleground Pennsylvania investigating 'small number of mail-in ballots' found in trash

The county, along with the Pennsylvania Department of State, plans to provide extra training to all staff, and has installed a security camera in the elections bureau to "actively monitor and ensure that all staff are strictly adhering to proper procedures and protocols."

A Justice Department official told ABC News Friday that Attorney General William Barr personally briefed Trump about the DOJ's investigation prior to it being made public Thursday. The president went on to discuss the incident on Fox News Radio's "Brian Kilmeade Show," claiming without evidence it backed up his baseless claims on fraudulent mail-in voting.

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As he attacks mail - in votes, Trump and the first lady requested absentee ballots in Florida. But his latest ballot request comes amid escalating attacks on mail - in voting by the president and his The Post found that 15 other Trump officials have also voted by mail. Attorney General William P. Barr

Officials Say . NBC Philadelphia 4 days ago Brian X. McCrone. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's administration has told county election offices not to discard a mail - in ballot in the Nov. The guidance comes after 1,773 mail - in ballots were not counted in the June primary because local

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