Election 2020

More than 100 absentee ballots were found in a Jefferson County dumpster Thursday morning.

Several pieces of undelivered mail were located in the trash by a Louisville citizen, who reported it to the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General (USPS OIG). Mixed in with the mail, which was set to be delivered to the 40299 zip code, were 112 absentee ballots and two political advertisements.

USPS OIG Special Agent Scott Balfour said the pieces of mail were delivered Thursday, and the person responsible for dumping the mail is no longer employed with the USPS.

“The case has been accepted for federal prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Balfour said. “I will point out that the vast majority of the Postal Service’s 630,000 employees are hard-working, trustworthy individuals who work around the clock to deliver the nation’s mail, and incidents of this nature are exceedingly rare when put into that context.”

The investigation is being handled by the USPS OIG, which handles crimes committed by postal employees including mail theft, drug trafficking, financial embezzlements, workers compensation fraud and other serious misconduct. Findings from the investigation will be used by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine appropriate charges for the unnamed employee.

Nore Ghibaudy, a spokesperson with the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office, said ballots can be tracked by recipients, and some people had already reached out about the status of their ballots.

“We had actually started to get some calls from that area, because it actually says on the website when your ballot leaves the county clerk’s office, and they knew it had been quite a few days,” Ghibaudy said. “And they were inquiring about possibly having to secure another ballot, because they didn’t receive theirs. We had several calls.”

Ghibaudy said the USPS has been a great partner during elections, and commended the quick response once the dumped mail was recovered.

“I do know that they acted very quickly in getting the people all their mail,” he said. “And that says something about how responsive they were and how quick to do that, but it’s just an unfortunate incident.”

Nearly 175,000 absentee ballots have been processed by the clerk’s office, and Ghibaudy said most have reached their recipients.

Balfour said citizens can report crimes committed by postal employees to our hotline at 888-USPS-OIG or www.uspsoig.gov.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.