(Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)
ALLENTOWN — An investigation by the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office found that there were “likely hundreds of instances” where people deposited more than one ballot in a voting drop box last fall – a violation of state election law.
But District Attorney Jim Martin said there will be no prosecutions because it is impossible to determine the identity of most of the violators.
“… to prosecute those few whose identity can be proven would be unfair and unjust given the much larger numbers who cannot be identified and who also deposited multiple ballots,” Martin said in a press release issued Monday.
Martin said the investigation confirmed a Jan. 20 complaint from Joe Vichot, chairperson of the Lehigh County Republican Committee.
During an appearance before a Pennsylvania Senate committee last week, Vichot screened a video that appeared to show a man dropping off multiple ballots.
Martin issued a 22-page memorandum on the investigation. He said following Vichot’s correspondence, the matter was referred to Chief County Detective Michael J. Millan, who assigned three detectives to the case.
Five ballot drop boxes, all of which were under video surveillance, were placed in locations in Lehigh County between Oct. 18 and Nov. 2, election day. Detectives attempted to watch all videos associated with the drop off boxes.
Over the time that drop boxes were in place, a total of 7,196 ballots were deposited and counted. Martin said at least 288 persons deposited more than one ballot in the various drop boxes.
Martin said that it is clear that “many more” people dropped off more than one ballot based on a review of the number of people who dropped off ballots versus the number of ballots that were in boxes.
“However, based upon the observation of the detectives, there was only one instance where it appears that more than two ballots were deposited; and then, either five or six. That person cannot be identified,” Martin said.
He said the vast majority of others captured on video depositing their ballots in drop-boxes also cannot be identified.
Martin said more than 14,800 ballots were delivered through the U.S. mail.
“I note that the only way to cure this violation would be to have ballots delivered in person to an election official,” Martin said.
Katherine Reinhard covers Allentown and Lehigh Valley for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Readers may follow her @KMReinhard. This piece was originally published by the politics newsletter Armchair Lehigh Valley.
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