Mail-In Ballots From Wisconsin Were Not Found in Ditch, Investigation Finds

Person mailing letter in USPS mailbox.
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No absentee ballots were found among the pile of mail discovered in a ditch in Wisconsin last month, an investigation has found. The three trays of mail discovered in a ditch in Greenville were originally thought to include absentee ballots from the state, which President Donald Trump seized on in his criticism of the validity of mail-in voting. 

Meagan Wolfe, director of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, told reporters during a virtual news conference Thursday that no Wisconsin absentee ballots were found, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. She said she did not know if ballots from other states were among the piles of mail discovered. 

"There was mail found outside of Appleton and that mail did not include any Wisconsin ballots," Wolfe said. 

Concern about absentee ballots has been a focal point of criticism by Trump, who has frequently questioned the expansion of voting by mail, claiming that the country will see significantly more voter fraud in this year's election as more Americans cast their votes from home. The U.S. Postal Service launched its investigation into the mail discarded along the side of a Wisconsin highway after it was picked up by several news outlets.

The Outagamie County Sheriff's Office initially confirmed to Snopes, a fact-checking website, that several mail-in ballots were, in fact, found in the shuffle of letters that ended up in a ditch at the intersection of two highways in Greenville, Wisconsin, shortly before 8 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 21. The Sheriff's office added that they did not "look at the ballots specifically" before turning them over to the Postal Inspector who will be conducting an investigation.

“We are aware of some mail including absentee ballots recovered in Greenville, Outagamie County earlier this week,” Francis Pilon, a Postal Service spokesman told the Post Crescent at the time. “The U.S. Postal Service is investigating this matter, and we are unable to comment further at this time.”

Though the investigation found no ballots from Wisconsin to be among the piles of mail, ballot issues are no stranger to Wisconsin, a state that has a recent history of technical conflicts during election season. Earlier this year, 2,693 voters in Milwaukee did not receive their absentee ballots due to production issues on March 22 and March 23, according to a report by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Nearly half of those people eventually voted either with a replacement ballot or at the polls.

Still, Trump has repeatedly made false claims regarding widespread fraud in mail-in elections. Most recently, during Tuesday's presidential debates, Trump accused postal workers in West Virginia of selling ballots and even dumping them in rivers and creeks, NBC reported.

"They have mailmen with lots of -- did you see what’s going on. Take a look at West Virginia, mailmen selling the ballots. They are being sold. They are being dumped in rivers. This is a horrible thing for our country,” said President Trump during the debates.

There have been no reported incidents of ballots being sold by mailmen during the 2020 election, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner told WDTV.

Voters can check the status of their absentee ballots by visiting myvote.wi.gov and clicking on "Track My Ballot."

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