Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar on Wednesday said an election worker in Luzerne County made a mistake when they threw out nine military ballots, and it was not "intentional fraud."
During an online press conference, Boockvar said that the "investigation is still going on, but from the initial reports we've been given, this was a bad error. This was not intentional fraud. So training, training, training." The ballots were found in Wilkes-Barre, and the unidentified worker who tossed them has been fired.
During a Fox News Radio interview last Thursday, President Trump announced that several ballots in his favor had been discarded, and a few hours later, the Trump-nominated U.S. Attorney in Harrisburg, Dave Freed, took the unusual step of releasing a statement saying an investigation into the matter was underway.
Jonathan Marks, Pennsylvania's deputy secretary for elections, told The Associated Press that sometimes military and overseas ballots are returned to Luzerne County in envelopes that do not clearly indicate they are ballots, and workers are now receiving extensive training on how to handle them. The unidentified worker who was fired did not ask for help with the ballots before they were discarded, AP reports, and it is unclear who found them. Catherine Garcia
Thursday was the first day of early voting in Illinois, and officials in Lake County were surprised by how many people showed up to cast their ballots.
At the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan, the first voter arrived at 8 a.m., an hour before doors opened, and by mid-afternoon, at least 300 people had voted, Lake County Clerk Robin O'Connor told The Washington Post. At some points, the wait to get inside was more than two hours, and now that officials know there is demand, a fourth voting machine will be in operation on Friday.
Voters stood six feet apart and had no problems waiting, O'Connor said, adding, "They're courteous, they're being polite, they're following the rules, it's beautiful. It's truly beautiful." Lake County has sent 126,000 mail-in ballots to voters, which is quadruple the number of people who voted by mail in November 2016, and O'Connor said officials expect "well over 100,000" ballots to be returned.
One person in line told the Post he decided to vote early because he did not trust the mail to deliver his ballot, while Socorro Herrera, 36, said she came out to "set an example for people," adding, "We are all busy, but you can vote, too. I want my young kids to know this is important — we all lead busy lives. It's a privilege, it really is." Toby Wong, 68, told the Post she is an immigrant and takes "voting rights seriously. I wasn't going to let fear about the coronavirus stop me. I am going to make sure my vote counts." Catherine Garcia