A Kentucky postal worker who allegedly tossed dozens of absentee ballots may face federal charges after being terminated from his position.
A United States Postal Service worker allegedly threw away over 100 absentee ballots meant for the Jeffersontown area of Jefferson County. Federal agents from the Postal Service Office of Inspector General found the ballots on Thursday morning after receiving a tip, according to the Courier-Journal.
“The case has been accepted for federal prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Special Agent Scott Balfour wrote in a statement Friday. “They will determine what charges are appropriate after a review of all the facts in the case.”
“Incidents of this nature are exceedingly rare,” Balfour said. The “vast majority of the Postal Service’s 630,000 employees are hard-working, trustworthy individuals who work around the clock to deliver the nation’s mail.”
The worker involved “is no longer employed by the USPS,” Balfour confirmed, according to WKYT. “I cannot provide any further details surrounding their employment due to federal privacy concerns.”
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Kentucky would not say whether or not the case would be taken up for prosecution. “We can’t confirm or deny an investigation,” spokesman Nick Storm said.
The recovered ballots were sent out by the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office on Oct. 3. Some of the Jefferson County residents who requested the ballots had called the office to report that they never received them.
The episode comes as pundits and lawmakers debate the merits of expanded mail-in voting amid the pandemic. Generally, Democratic lawmakers have pushed to expand absentee and mail-in voting, even as far as universal mail-in voting where an unsolicited ballot is sent to every American. Republicans have pushed back against mail-in voting, opting instead to keep the current absentee voting standards, or reduce standards for qualifying for absentee ballots.
The Trump administration has argued strongly against mail-in voting. Attorney General Bill Barr has been one of the most vocal critics of Democratic proposals to introduce expanded or universal mail-in voting.
“I’m very worried about it. You know, as I said at the beginning, the two ways we have resolving disputes in our society and keeping the peace are discussion and voting,” Barr said during an interview in August. “And right now, we’re a very divided country politically. Our elections have been very close. They can turn on one state. They turn on just a few districts.”
“And people have to have confidence in the outcome or we’re going to have real problems in this country,” Barr added. “And I think the people who want to experiment with different ways of voting right now, which are predictably—you know, can predictably create problems of integrity, are playing with fire and are grossly irresponsible.”
Barr defended absentee voting where people must provide some form of identification to request a ballot.
“There’s no problem with that, especially for states that have been doing that for awhile,” Barr said.