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Pennsylvania Postal Worker Waffles on Election Fraud Claim

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A postal employee in Erie, Pennsylvania, claimed that his superiors had been backdating postmarks on ballots, then instructed federal investigators that he didn’t truly know that — after which went again to his authentic place. Despite the flimsiness of the declare, President Donald Trump and his supporters have used it of their effort guilty widespread election fraud for his electoral defeat.

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A postal employee in Erie, Pennsylvania, who claimed that his superiors had been backdating the postmarks on ballots acquired after Election Day recanted his allegation, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform introduced on Nov. 10, citing data from the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General.

But Richard Hopkins, the mail provider who made the allegation, later mentioned that he hasn’t recanted.

His declare was that two days after the election, he heard the Erie postmaster say to a supervisor that they’d “messed up” by failing to backdate the postmark on a poll that arrived after Nov. Three on the Erie postal facility.

State regulation in Pennsylvania requires mail-in ballots to be acquired by Election Day so as to be counted. But a state Supreme Court ruling in September prolonged the deadline to Nov. 6, as requested by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration, so long as the ballots had been postmarked or presumed to be postmarked by Nov. 3, Election Day. Republicans have challenged the ruling on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the secretary of the commonwealth ordered election officers to maintain late-arriving ballots separate for now.

Many facets of Hopkins’ declare are unclear — from its shaky underpinnings as to whether or not it has been recanted — however we’ll lay out what we all know since President Donald Trump and his supporters are utilizing it of their effort guilty widespread voter fraud for Trump’s defeat within the election.

Among these selling the declare is Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who pledged on Nov. 7 to request that the Department of Justice examine Hopkins’ declare.

Two days later that investigation turned a chance when Attorney General William Barr despatched a memo to federal prosecutors telling them that they may examine allegations of voter fraud, a transfer at odds with longstanding division steering meant to keep away from impacting election outcomes. That steering says “overt criminal investigative measures should not ordinarily be taken in matters involving alleged fraud in the manner in which votes were cast or counted until the election in question has been concluded, its results certified, and all recounts and election contests concluded.”

The Trump marketing campaign additionally cited Hopkins’ declare in a federal lawsuit filed Nov. 9 geared toward blocking Pennsylvania from certifying its election outcomes. President-elect Joe Biden holds a greater than 53,000-vote lead within the state, in keeping with the unofficial vote tally to this point.

And Trump retweeted Hopkins’ video denying that he had recanted, calling him a “brave patriot” on Nov. 10.

But the declare is flimsy.

Hopkins first made the allegation anonymously in a video with James O’Keefe, founding father of the conservative activist group Project Veritas, on Nov. 5. Hopkins supplied no proof to assist his allegation past repeating a dialog he claimed to have overheard. Erie Postmaster Robert Weisenbach, who was focused within the allegation, instructed O’Keefe on a cellphone name included within the authentic video that the allegation was “untrue.”

So, initially, the declare amounted to 1 man’s phrase towards one other’s.

But proof has mounted since then that weighs towards Hopkins’ account.

On Nov. 10, the Erie Times-News reviewed 129 mail-in poll envelopes that had been postmarked Nov. 3, which was Election Day, however arrived on the Erie County Board of Elections after that. Election officers oversaw the assessment, in keeping with the newspaper. Of these 129 ballots, solely two had been processed by means of the Erie facility, the newspaper reported.

“A bulk of the ballots were processed at various [postal service] locations across the state and the country, from places as far west as Tacoma, Washington, and as far south as Florida,” the newspaper reported. Those voters had been registered in Erie County, however had been out of city for any variety of causes, together with for work or school.

“Not only did the Erie Times-News review find that only two late-arriving ballots processed at the Erie postal facility have a Nov. 3 postmark,” the story mentioned, “but it also found that nine late ballots processed in Erie were postmarked Nov. 4 or later.”

Further undercutting Hopkins’ declare is audio from the interview carried out with him by postal investigators after the preliminary Project Veritas video. Hopkins secretly recorded the interview (he revealed to the brokers that he had been recording it on the finish), and Project Veritas posted it on YouTube.

The recording lasts for about two hours and options two postal investigators who speak by means of Hopkins’ declare with him.

Hopkins’ allegation rests largely on a dialog he mentioned that he overheard in a standard space on the Erie postal facility on Nov. 5 between two of his superiors.

Referring to Weisenbach, the postmaster, Hopkins mentioned within the authentic Project Veritas video, “I heard him say to the supervisor that they messed up yesterday… and he told the supervisor they had postmarked one of the ballots the fourth instead of the third, because they were supposed to put them for the third.”

But within the interview with investigators, Hopkins mentioned, “I didn’t specifically hear the whole story. I just heard a part of it and I could’ve missed a lot of it. … My mind probably added the rest.”

At one level, the investigators, who carried out the interview on the Erie facility, took Hopkins to the world the place he mentioned the dialog had occurred, however he was unable to listen to the investigator talking on the similar distance that Hopkins would have been from Weisenbach.

Hopkins mentioned that the phrases he truly heard had been: “ballots picked up on the fourth … one of them was marked the fourth and the rest were the third.”

He mentioned that he by no means heard the phrase “backdate” and repeatedly acknowledged that he made assumptions in regards to the which means of the phrases he overheard.

Agapi Doulaveris, spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service inspector normal’s workplace, instructed us by electronic mail the workplace doesn’t touch upon ongoing investigations, so we don’t know if Hopkins made every other statements within the interview about withdrawing or amending his declare. But we do know that within the audio of the interview, posted by Project Veritas, Hopkins revised his declare and not stood by his preliminary assertion.

After that, although, he modified his thoughts, once more, and flipped again to his authentic accusation. Hopkins appeared in one other video with O’Keefe, posted on Nov. 11, wherein he reported being placed on unpaid go away from the Postal Service and mentioned of the investigators, “They were grilling the hell out of me. … I feel like I just got played.”

In the audio recording of the interview with investigators, although, Hopkins mentioned that he understood that his participation was voluntary and repeatedly confirmed that he was comfy with taking part. At one level, he instructed the investigators that he understood signing a press release that mirrored his revised model of what he heard “will save my ass.”

It’s additionally value noting that Hopkins’ declare was similar to one other accusation promoted by Project Veritas. In that one, an nameless Michigan postal employee mentioned that his superiors had been backdating ballots. The Postal Service inspector normal’s workplace is investigating that scenario, too. But, whatever the consequence, the allegation would haven’t any impact on the vote totals in Michigan since that state doesn’t settle for ballots after Election Day.

Editor’s observe: is considered one of a number of organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our earlier tales may be discovered right here.

This reality examine is out there at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click right here for extra.


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