Luzerne County manager responds to discarded ballots investigation

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — From your local election headquarters, we are learning more tonight about how 9 mail-in military ballots ended up in a dumpster in Luzerne County.

Luzerne County Manager Dave Pedri released details about the incident as federal investigators continue to look into the matter.

Those 9 mail-in military ballots were found in one of these dumpsters outside the county’s Penn Place office building. The bureau of elections is located inside Penn Place. Pedri says a temporary worker is responsible for the incident.

“We had an independent contractor who discarded these ballots incorrectly. That was found out by Election Director Shelby Watchilla. She caught it, she called the authorities,” said Pedri.

For the first time since word of the federal investigation into mail-in ballots broke earlier this week, Pedri is releasing details of the incident.

“Luzerne County Election Bureau always hires independent seasonal workers as we start to gear up for the election.”

Pedri says the worker was sorting mail received by the election bureau from Monday, September 14th to Wednesday, September 16th when Watchilla discovered a problem.

Mehalshick: “What about security? Do you think this was accidental? What do you think the scenario was?”

Pedri: “I really can’t talk about the intent of the individual or the actor. That’s something for the investigation.”

Mehalshick: “And what about the ballots that were tossed in the dumpster? Will they be counted?”

Pedri: “We are waiting for the FBI to return them, then we’re going to be contacting the department of state to make sure we can maintain them and then reaching out to the voters as well.”

READ MORE: Luzerne County Council reacts to the investigation.

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