The FBI and Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney David Freed said Thursday they are investigating “potential issues” with nine military ballots in one county. They believe the ballots were opened improperly, reports NPR. Freed noted the investigation remains active. He said he released the news “based on the limited amount of time before the general election and the vital public importance of these issues.” Voting rights experts and Justice Department veterans said the proximity to the election and the preliminary nature of the investigation make Freed’s announcement highly unusual. The potential voting irregularities came to light after President Donald Trump mentioned them in a Fox radio interview.
Luzerne County, Pa., Elections Director Shelby Watchilla discovered the ballots described as “discarded” last week. Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis asked Freed to investigate. Freed said nine military ballots had been “improperly opened” by elections staff and “discarded.” He wrote that “the majority” of the recovered ballots and envelopes were found in an outside dumpster, seven of the nine ballots outside their official envelopes, and two that elections staff had apparently recovered and sealed back in their envelopes. All the ballots found outside of envelopes were cast for President Trump, Freed said.