HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — No criminal charges will be filed against a former temporary elections worker authorities have said mistakenly discarded nine military ballots ahead of the November presidential election, a federal prosecutor announced Friday.
Officials have previously blamed the decision to toss out the ballots on an unidentified and improperly trained contract worker who had been handling mail-in ballots for the county for two days. The ballots were later retrieved from the trash and were counted with other mailed ballots after the Nov. 3 election.
“After a thorough investigation conducted by the FBI and prosecutors from my office, we have determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove criminal intent on the part of the person who discarded the ballots,” Acting U.S. Attorney Bruce Brandler, a career prosecutor, said in a news release.
“Therefore, no criminal charges will be filed and the matter is closed,” he said.
President Donald Trump repeatedly brought up the nine ballots as he pressed groundless claims of election fraud, including two mentions during the first presidential debate. Brandler’s predecessor, Dave Freed, a Trump nominee who recently stepped down ahead of the change in administrations, has said that seven of the ballots were cast for Trump. The other two had been resealed.
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat whose office oversees voting in Pennsylvania, has previously described the discarded ballots as a “bad error” but not a matter of intentional fraud. The Department of State provided training for Luzerne County election workers in the wake of the September incident.
The unidentified worker was fired.