Federal investigators are looking into nine mail-in ballots that were reportedly discovered discarded from a county elections office in northeast Pennsylvania.
The district attorney in Luzerne County reached out to federal authorities Monday, according to the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The FBI and state police are investigating.
"At this point we can confirm that a small number of military ballots were discarded," U.S. Attorney David Freed's office said in a statement, adding that of the nine ballots, seven had been cast for 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 2 ballots are unknown,” the statement continued.
The investigation also found four “apparently official, bar-coded, absentee ballot envelopes that were empty” in an outside dumpster.
Military ballots and other absentee ballots are supposed to be stored securely, unopened, until official counting begins on Election Day.
The investigation, Freed says, found staff in Luzerne County opened nearly all envelopes “received in the elections office were opened as a matter of course. It was explained to investigators the envelopes used for official overseas, military, absentee and mail-in ballot requests are so similar, that the staff believed that adhering to the protocol of preserving envelopes unopened would cause them to miss such ballot requests.”
Freed states this was a known issue from previous elections and the problem has not been corrected.
Freed says the investigation into the small number of mail-in ballots remains active, and there are still questions about what exactly happened, he wanted to make it public at this point “based on the limited amount of time before the general election and the vital public importance of these issues.”