It's a story presented without hard evidence, a tale without even a clear allegation of what kind of fraud occurred, or how it happened.
But it’s gone viral among supporters of President Donald Trump, who have embraced the president’s assertion that the 2020 election was stolen, despite the fact that numerous officials, including the nation’s highest-ranking law enforcement official, have concluded the election was fair and square
The story in question was told by a man named Jesse Morgan at a Wednesday press conference in Arlington, Va., convened by a Republican lawyer to present alleged evidence of election fraud.
Morgan said he works as a truck driver for a U.S. Postal Service contractor. He said he delivered what he thought was 130,000 to 280,000 ballots from a postal facility in Bethpage, New York, to Harrisburg and then Lancaster on Oct. 21. The ballots, he said, had return addresses for New York.
Morgan said he parked the trailer at a Lancaster city postal facility. When he returned the next morning, the trailer, which he referred to by the serial number “10-R 1440,” was gone.
Morgan’s allegation quickly spread online Tuesday night. Trump posted about it on social media to his millions of followers, and Morgan was interviewed in primetime by Fox News host Sean Hannity, a close ally of the president.
LNP | LancasterOnline’s attempts to reach Morgan through the lawyer were not successful. His place of residence is not clear. In telling his story, Morgan sounded like he lives in or near Lancaster. A call to a phone number listed for an Elizabethtown person by that name was returned but it is not the same person who appeared at the press conference.
The story Morgan told was not, in itself, evidence of fraud. And while pieces of Morgan’s story could be true, they also wouldn’t be unusual, said Diane Skilling, interim director of Lancaster County’s elections office.
In every election, the county sends and receives back absentee ballots from voters out of the state. Students, people traveling and, in some cases this year, people stuck in other places because of COVID-19 lockdowns, returned their ballots with out-of-state return addresses, Skilling said.
“That’s not uncommon,” she said.
The number of total mail ballots that arrived in Lancaster, according to the driver’s story, would have been more than were actually requested in the county.
About 109,000 Lancaster County voters were mailed ballots for the general election, and 91,000 people returned them.
Phillip Kline, a former Kansas attorney general whose law license was suspended in 2013, initially brought Morgan’s allegations to light and said he would be contacting local law enforcement officials.
A spokesman for Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said her office was aware of the allegation. Because it involves multiple states, it “would typically be handled by a federal agency” with the district attorney’s help if needed, said the spokesman, Brett Hambright. He did not say, however, if the office was assisting in an investigation.
A spokeswoman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Wednesday morning only that she had not heard about the allegation.
The U.S. Postal Service’s law enforcement arm, meanwhile, was “looking into the allegations,” a spokeswoman said.
President-elect Joe Biden defeated Trump by 80,555 votes in Pennsylvania, which certified its results on Nov. 24, one day after the mostly Republican Board of Elections in Lancaster County certified the results here. Trump won the county by more than 44,000 votes.
On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department had not found evidence of widespread fraud capable of changing the outcome of the presidential election.