A United States Postal Service employee in Louisville, Kentucky has been fired and could face federal charges after allegedly throwing more than 100 absentee ballots in a dumpster Thursday—in an incident likely to get politicized as evidence of mail-in ballot fraud, which a USPS investigator nonetheless describes as “exceedingly rare.”
112 absentee ballots, which were unopened and had not been filled out, were found inside a dumpster in Louisville on Thursday.
The employee who threw the ballots in the dumpster has since been fired and the investigation has been turned over to federal prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office, according to special agent Scott Balfour of the USPS Office of the Inspector General.
According to The Courier Journal, the ballots were sent out by the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office on Oct. 3, and some voters had reached out to the office after not receiving their ballots.
President Donald Trump has continually warned that the 2020 presidential election will be rife with fraud because of the massive increase in mail-in voting, but Balfour said in a statement cases like these are “exceedingly rare,” and there have been few instances to back up the president’s claims ahead of the election.
”Incidents of this nature are exceedingly rare,” Balfour said in a statement, adding that the “vast majority of the Postal Service’s 630,000 employees are hard-working, trustworthy individuals who work around the clock to deliver the nation’s mail.”
There are few examples of election fraud in mail-in voting, despite the president’s claims, but some similar cases have been investigated ahead of the election. In Pennsylvania, nine ballots were found thrown away in a trash can, including seven that were filled out and cast votes for Trump. The president brought up the Pennsylvania case in the first presidential debate, but Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar (D) said an investigation has shown the ballots being discarded was likely a “bad error” by a worker and not “intentional fraud.” Trump has also claimed that instances of technology errors leading to misprinted absentee ballots are examples of fraud.
0.00006%. That’s the percentage of ballots that were found to be fraudulent in the past 20 years out of five states that use universal mail-in voting, according to a Brookings Institute analysis.
Federal prosecutors can now take steps publicly that could interfere in elections if they suspect fraud on the part of postal workers or military employees, according to a memo sent by the Department of Justice. That changes a longstanding restriction that prosecutors hold off on making announcements on investigations or arrests that could be seen as having an impact on an election.
Undelivered absentee ballots found in dumpster in Kentucky (The Associated Press)
Postal employee who discarded 112 Louisville ballots could face federal charges (The Courier Journal)