HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — It appears that an election worker’s decision to throw out nine military ballots in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, amounted to a mistake and not “intentional fraud,” the state’s top elections official said Wednesday.
Workers in the elections office in Luzerne County are getting training on handling mailed-in military and overseas ballots, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said during an online news conference.
“The investigation is still going on, but from the initial reports we’ve been given, this was a bad error,” said Boockvar, a member of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration. “This was not intentional fraud. So training, training, training.”
President Donald Trump has repeatedly brought up the nine ballots as what he calls evidence of election fraud in the past week, including two mentions during Tuesday night’s presidential debate.
The president first mentioned the ballots during a radio show appearance Thursday, hours before the Trump-nominated U.S. attorney in Harrisburg, Dave Freed, put out a news release about the investigation.
Jonathan Marks, the Pennsylvania deputy secretary for elections, said that in some cases, military and overseas ballots arrived in Luzerne County inside envelopes that do not clearly mark them as ballots.
The usual process when those types of ballots arrive is to immediately reseal them and store them securely with other mail-in and absentee ballots to await canvassing, he said.
“So it sounds like it was confusion,” Marks said.
The Department of State is working on training for Luzerne County elections workers on what to do when they find balloting material inside an unmarked envelope.