The small number of mishandled military ballots at a Pennsylvania elections board that sparked a federal inquiry and allegations from the Trump campaign that Democrats were "trying to steal the election" were actually "incorrectly" tossed by a temp, a county official said Friday.
In a press release, Luzerne County Manager David Pedri said a "temporary seasonal independent contractor" who started work sorting mail at the Elections Bureau on Sept. 14th had "incorrectly" thrown out a small number of military and overseas ballots.
The county elections director found out what had happened two days later, and had all the trash from the three-day period "placed in a dumpster and secured," the release said.
“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,” according to the release, which noted the temp was asked not to return.
In a highly unusual move Thursday, David Freed, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, issued a statement saying his office had begun "an inquiry into reports of potential issues with a small number of mail-in ballots at the Luzerne County Board of Elections." The release also noted that at least seven of the nine ballots were "cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump."