According to local officials in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, there is no apparent indication that a small selection of ballots that were recently discovered to have been discarded were indicative of any kind of fraud scheme. Instead, according to the officials, the ballots — nine in total — were discarded by accident by a temporary independent contractor who was within their first few days of work for local officials. After the issue, this contractor was “removed” from the service of county elections officials. Seven of the nine ballots were apparently filled out in support of Donald Trump, and the president has now repeatedly characterized the incident as indicative of some kind of Democratic election-rigging — but there is no evidence for his fraud claims.
Local officials noted that the fact that the mishandled ballots were discovered means that “the system of checks and balances set forth in Pennsylvania elections works.” The Trump campaign has specifically challenged elections protocol in Pennsylvania, claiming, for instance, that drop boxes for absentee ballots should not be used because of a baselessly alleged potential for fraud. Recently, during a federal court case over the issue, the judge in the case — J. Nicholas Ranjan, a Trump appointee — ordered the president’s campaign to produce any evidence that they had of recent fraud in the state’s absentee voting system, but they produced nothing. They claimed that they should never have been compelled to produce the evidence in the first place, although they were the ones making the grandiose claims.
According to CNN, those local officials in Pennsylvania “were baffled by the Justice Department’s decision to disclose” the detail that discarded ballots had been filled out in support of President Trump. Were Justice Department officials intentionally trying to garner political concern about the issue before an adequate investigation into the problem was even completed? It’s not the first time that federal processes have been used for the president’s possible political advantage — for instance, the Justice Department has moved to completely drop the criminal case against Michael Flynn, the president’s prominent ally who originally pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his communications with a Russian envoy.
Overall, the president’s grandiose allegations of some kind of election fraud seem like a prepared excuse to use if he loses the election. There is consistently no evidence for his claims, although he refuses to outright commit to accepting the election results and ensuring a peaceful transition of power if he loses.