We Now Know the Real Reason Those PA Military Ballots Were Discarded—and Trump Supported It All Along
The pandemic that's killed over 200 thousand Americans is also expected to result in an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots ahead of November 3rd.
With little more than a month until Election Day, President Donald Trump and his Republican allies are ramping up their attacks on the 100+ year old institution of voting by mail, falsely claiming that it's rife with enough voter fraud to sway an entire election.
So suspicions were raised when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania made the unusual announcement that they'd be investigating potential issues with nine military ballots in a Pennsylvania county that may have been improperly opened.
The Trump team has considered a smear campaign against mail-in voting in Pennsylvania in an effort to get the swing state's Republican dominated legislature to appoint electors loyal to Donald Trump, who would then cast the state's electoral votes.
The unconventional announcement of an investigation into nine ballots was largely seen as a product of that smear campaign, but now additional information indicates that it wasn't the mailing aspect of these ballots that was the problem.
Pennsylvania's controversial new mail-in voting law requires all ballots to be in an additional privacy envelope. Election officials in the state warned that this could result in the discarding of an estimated 50 thousand ballots.
For perspective, Donald Trump won the key swing state of Pennsylvania by 44 thousand votes in 2016.
While Democrats fought for ballots without additional privacy envelopes to be counted, the Trump campaign and the Pennsylvania Republican argued in court that only ballots with privacy envelopes should be valid.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court sided with Republicans, allowing state officials to discard mail-in ballots without privacy envelopes.
According to Politico's chief political correspondent, Tim Alberta, it was these rules—which the Trump campaign favored—that led to the discarding of the military ballots, seven of whom were for Trump.
Yup. From the latest DOJ statement, it seems like:
9 military voters sent write-in absentee ballots to Luzerne.
Because these letters weren't in SC-mandated privacy envelopes, Luzerne officials thought they were *requests* for absentee ballots. They opened them, spoiling them. https://t.co/WsAJw9gBg1
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) September 25, 2020
Here's that DOJ update https://t.co/4oZamK7ssE
Pretty clear the problem here wasn't absentee voting, which is routine for military personnel, but rather the new (and controversial) ruling that requires ballots be placed in privacy envelopes. More on that: https://t.co/hb4I2EmQiq
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) September 25, 2020
According to Alberta, the election officials thought the ballots were actually absentee ballot requests due to the absence of the privacy envelope, which resulted in their discardment.
The same day of this development, Trump accused Pennsylvania officials of "throwing away" Trump ballots.
RINO Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts is unsuccessfully trying to defend Mail In Ballots, when there is fraud being found all over the place. Just look at some of the recent races, or the Trump Ballots in Pennsylvania that were thrown into the garbage. Wrong Charlie!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2020
People were all too eager to point out that the ballots were discarded due to policies Trump's own campaign fought for in court.
TL:DR the discarded Trump ballots were discarded because...Trump and GOP lawyers won a lawsuit requiring them to not be counted!!! https://t.co/NE5s90GJDq
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) September 25, 2020
This is an epic self own by Republicans.
The reason those *7* ballots were thrown out in Pennsylvania is because Republicans SUED TO HAVE THEM THROWN OUT. https://t.co/RD6Z2s9zvW
— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) September 25, 2020
So, about those nine discarded Trump military ballots in Pennsylvania. Turns out they were discarded because they weren't in secrecy envelopes. And Trump and the Pennsylvania GOP are the ones who sued to discard naked ballots.
— Matthew Chapman (@fawfulfan) September 25, 2020
People speculated that arguing for ballots not to be counted then blaming Democrats for those ballots not being counted was yet another Trump plot to sow mistrust in the entire system.
Step One: Get the ballots thrown out
Step Two: Claim the ballots being thrown out is because Dems are trying to steal the election https://t.co/qFBy5b1uAV
— Adam Serwer🍝 (@AdamSerwer) September 25, 2020
So those "Trump ballots" in the trash in Pennsylvania? REPUBLICANS threw them out b/c they spoiled the ballots—tripped up by the extra "secrecy envelope" rule.
So NO absentee ballot fraud but definitely Trump, GOP & DOJ! distorting facts to subvert an election w/ disinformation. https://t.co/hJFgnK8LHR
— Paula Chertok🗽 (@PaulaChertok) September 25, 2020
Losing 9 votes in exchange for free narrative-pumping aided by highly irregular DOJ public statements seems like a pretty good deal. https://t.co/xIxnrvdopS
— Todd Zwillich (@toddzwillich) September 25, 2020
Republicans are simultaneously arguing in court that mail-in ballots without secrecy envelopes need to be invalidated, but are also claiming that discarding ballots, seemingly for not complying with that requirement, is an attempt to steal the election. https://t.co/ngj9oPc6rJ
— Alexander (@purplechrain) September 25, 2020
When you accidentally disenfranchise active duty military members to own the libs. https://t.co/gAg5NGN7CS
— Michael Lahanas-Calderón (@mjlahanas) September 25, 2020