WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — It’s been nearly two weeks now since questions and concerns were raised about military mail-in ballots in Luzerne County.
Wednesday, Eyewitness News spoke with the secretary of the Department of State in Pennsylvania, the department which oversees elections in Pennsylvania. The secretary is confident fraud was not involved here.
“My understanding is this was linked to one temporary employee who clearly wasn’t trained. That’s the key here right,” Kathy Boockvar, Secretary of the Department of State, said.
During a Zoom news conference Wednesday, Boockvar responded to questions regarding the November general election. Boockvar actually brought up the ongoing federal investigation because of concerns the Luzerne County case has prompted across the commonwealth about possible fraud of connected mail-in ballots.
Luzerne County Manager Dave Pedri says that a temporary seasonal independent contractor, working for the Bureau of Elections, threw the nine ballots into the trash.
The United States Attorney’s Office, FBI and state police are investigating the matter. Boockvar tells Eyewitness News her department is now working with Luzerne County to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“From what I can see, as you said, the investigation is still going on, but for initial reports we’ve been given…this was a bad employee. This was not intentional fraud,” Boockvar said.
The investigation prompted a protest on Wednesday outside of Penn Place, the county building that houses the Bureau of Elections.
They want answers. They want to know how this could have happened in the first place, and are here in support of the County Board of Elections, which oversees the Bureau of Elections.
Some held signs demanding the resignation of Pedri.
“There are people running the Bureau of Elections who don’t know what their job is. The board isn’t being consulted,” Walter Griffith, Luzerne County council member, said.
Keith Gould and Joyce Dombrowski-Gebhardt are members of the Luzerne County Board of Elections.
“We felt we should have been informed immediately of anything that goes on in the office of…the board should be made aware of,” Gould said.
The Luzerne County Board of Elections will hold a special meeting on Thursday to discuss the ballot investigation.
Eyewitness News reached out to Pedri for comment, but we haven’t heard back.