Agents found no evidence of backdated ballots, report says
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — U.S. Postal Service investigators did not find evidence of any backdated presidential election ballots in the post office in Erie, Pennsylvania, according to a report summarizing the investigation into claims by a postal worker that spurred calls from Republicans for a federal probe.
The presidential battleground of Pennsylvania was a key target for unfounded claims of election fraud by former President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans after Trump lost the state, and the election, to Democrat Joe Biden.
Agents from the Postal Service inspector general’s office found no evidence of backdated ballots after interviewing county and post office employees and reviewing ballots received by the Erie post office on Nov. 3 and afterward, the report said.
The report had been kept under wraps by the inspector general’s office until it was posted, without an announcement, on Feb. 26.
Allegations by an employee, Richard Hopkins, became public Nov. 5 in a video released by Project Veritas, a conservative group that had been promoting voter fraud accusations on social media.
Citing Hopkins’ allegations, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for an investigation by the Department of Justice.
The name of the employee in the agents’ report is redacted, but the report discusses the same claims he made publicly, as well as his involvement with Project Veritas. Hopkins does not appear to have a publicly listed telephone number.
On Nov. 6, he told agents that he overheard a conversation between the postmaster and a supervisor that involved backdating ballots received after polls closed to “make them appear to have been received” on Nov. 3, which was Election Day, the report said.
Three days later, on Nov. 9, he told the agents that he had not actually heard a conversation about ballots, but saw the postmaster and the supervisor having a discussion “and assumed it was about backdating ballots,” the report said.
He “acknowledged he had no evidence of any backdated presidential ballots,” the report said.
Postmaster Robert Weisenbach has called the allegations false, and the supervisor and the postal worker who controlled the postmarking stamps at the post office told agents they were unaware of any evidence of backdated presidential election ballots, the report said.
Doug Smith, Erie County’s chief clerk and clerk of elections, told The Associated Press at the time that the county had received about 140 ballots after the election. Just five had an Erie postmark, while the rest were postmarked elsewhere from other post offices, Smith said.