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Fact check: Partly false claim about discarded ballots in Pennsylvania amplified by Eric Trump

The claim: Ballots were found in drainage ditches in Pennsylvania and that's evidence of election fraud by Democrats

Misinformation surrounding an incident about missing military ballots in Pennsylvania has recently resurfaced following results from the presidential election. 

post on Facebook on Sept. 24 by conservative activist Dan Carr claims "multiple military mail-in ballots were found thrown away in a ditch in Pennsylvania!!!!"

Carr added: "This is true election interference and Democrats are okay with it!!!"

That claim was amplified by Eric Trump at a Nov. 4 press briefing. A video of him making the same claim during the briefing has been shared widely on Facebook.

"The Democrats know the only way that they can win this election is to cheat in Pennsylvania, and we've seen it from day one, we've seen it from day one," Trump said in the video. "We found ballots in drainage ditches."

USA TODAY reached out to Carr, the user on Facebook, and Trump for comment. 

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Nine military ballots were incorrectly discarded, but it wasn't an instance of fraud — and they weren't in a ditch

The claims by Carr and Eric Trump contain a mix of true and false information.

On Sept. 24, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania David Freed announced that nine military ballots were incorrectly discarded in a dumpster in Luzerne County. Seven of the nine were outside of their envelopes, and all seven of those ballots were marked as votes for President Donald Trump.

Luzerne County removed the temporary contractor who made the error while sorting ballots and cooperated with the FBI to recover the ballots from the dumpster, per County Manager C. David Pedri.

But there were no ballots found in a drainage ditch.The incident is also not evidence of cheating or fraud by Democrats.

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Until the announcement from the Justice Department, Pedri wrote that he was unaware the ballots in question had been cast for Trump.

He maintained that the system is safe.

“While the actions of this individual has cast a concern, the above statement shows that the system of checks and balances set forth in Pennsylvania elections works,” Pedri wrote. “An error was made, a public servant discovered it and reported it to law enforcement at the local, State and Federal level who took over to ensure the integrity of the system in place.”

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Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar also said during an online news conference that the situation was not "intentional fraud."   

“The investigation is still going on, but from the initial reports we’ve been given, this was a bad error,” Boockvar said.

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Our rating: Partly false

We rate the claim that Pennsylvania ballots in drainage ditches are evidence of fraud or cheating by Democrats as PARTLY FALSE. There were no ballots found in a ditch. It is true that there were nine military ballots incorrectly discarded in a dumpster — seven of which were cast for President Donald Trump — but the incident was an error by a contractor, not evidence of cheating. The Pennsylvania secretary of state also stated that the situation was not "intentional fraud."

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