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No Charges Will Be Filed Against The Election Worker Who Incorrectly Threw Out Military Ballots

Trump had latched on to the incident as supposed evidence that the Democrats were trying to steal the election.

Posted on January 15, 2021, at 2:44 p.m. ET

Bonnie Jo Mount / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Election workers scan mail-in ballots at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

No charges will be filed against a former temporary election worker who threw nine military ballots into the trash in Pennsylvania last year, officials announced Friday.

"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,” Bruce Brandler, acting US attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “Therefore, no criminal charges will be filed and the matter is closed.”

In September, federal authorities announced in a statement that was seen as highly unusual that they were investigating issues with a small number of ballots that were found in a dumpster at the Luzerne County elections office. In the statement, then–US attorney David J. Freed revealed that most of the ballots had been cast for President Donald Trump, information that political experts said was inconsequential to a law enforcement query and inappropriate to release.

The Trump campaign latched on to the incident as evidence that the Democrats were trying to steal the election, an unsubstantiated and dangerous lie that the president used to incite his supporters to attack the US Capitol last week.

Instead, Luzerne County officials explained that the error occurred after a temporary seasonal worker who had been assigned to sort mail and had just started work "incorrectly discarded" the military ballots into the trash. The worker was subsequently let go.

During the investigation, authorities provided the county with copies of all the documents retrieved by the FBI so that they could contact the impacted voters and ensure that their ballots were counted in the Nov. 3 election.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.