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A Pennsylvania-based U.S. attorney who made headlines in September when he announced an investigation into “discarded” military ballots is resigning, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.
“For the past three years, I have had the great fortune to work with the highly skilled attorneys and staff in the Middle District of Pennsylvania,” federal prosecutor Daniel Freed said in a statement. “It is an office blessed with experienced and dedicated leaders, and colleagues who truly understand the importance of working together for the benefit of their fellow citizens.”
His resignation will take effect Jan. 1.
In late September, federal investigators concluded that nine military ballots, all for President Donald Trump, had been improperly opened and “discarded,” leading his campaign to reiterate its concerns over potential ballot fraud.
In a statement at the time, Freed said that the FBI and Pennsylvania State Police had launched an investigation as well at the request of Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salvantis.
“Investigators have recovered nine ballots at this time,” Freed said. “All nine ballots were cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“It is the vital duty of government to ensure that every properly cast vote is counted,” he added.
Throughout the summer as several states announced that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic they would be dramatically increasing mail-in voting ahead of the Nov. 3 election, President Trump repeatedly warned that doing so would lead to widespread vote fraud and irregularities.
To that point, several studies regarding U.S. electoral integrity in recent years have found that America ranks dangerously low as compared to other mature, affluent societies.
In December 2016, for instance, a report by the Harvard University-based Electoral Integrity Project found that the U.S. system ranked in integrity about the same as Rwanda, Argentina, and Mongolia.
“Unlike many other Western democracies, there is wide variance in the integrity of individual systems in American states, which have the constitutional authority to administer elections, draw their own district lines and set rules that govern voter access,” The Hill reported.
At the time, The EIP ranked European nations Denmark and Finland as having the strongest electoral systems, with Norway a close third. The U.S., meanwhile, scored 64 out of a top rating of 100 points; the lowest countries were ruled by dictators and included Syria, Ethiopia, Burundi and Equatorial Guinea.
Harvard political scientist Pippa Norris, who runs the EIP, told The Hill then, that one major difference between top-rated European democracies and the United States is that discussions over election topics such as early and absentee voting, electronic ballot machines, voter ID laws, and poll closing times have all become politicized.
“Particularly since 2000, what’s been happening is increasing partisan polarization in American elections,” Norris said. “Those are the sort of issues that in most countries are administrative issues. What’s happened since 2000 is the lawyers have thrown their hats in the ring.”
By 2019, according to the EIP, U.S. electoral integrity had not improved much. The organization ranked the U.S. “lower than any other long-established democracies and affluent societies.”
“Even an ‘electoral stain,’ a Third World voting integrity practice in which a finger is dunked in indelible ink, would ensure a more trustworthy U.S. election outcome than the ballot bungle of 2020,” said a Nov. 23 Washington Times editorial criticizing the U.S. electoral process.
As for Freed, he did not give a specific reason why he is resigning, but he did thank President Trump and U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) “for the opportunity to serve.”
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