Postal Service finds 'no evidence' of Project Veritas' claim that mail workers tampered with ballots in the 2020 election

Jacob Shamsian
·3 min read
james o keefe project veritas cpac
James O'Keefe, President of Project Veritas, in February. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • The Postal Service released a report into claims that employees tampered with Pennsylvania ballots.

  • They found "no evidence" for the accusations, first brought by Project Veritas.

  • Investigators reviewed the ballots and found no indications of tampering.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Federal investigators looked into accusations from Project Veritas that Pennsylvania postal workers tampered with mail-in ballots and found that the claims were false.

The findings came in a little-noticed February 26 report from the US Postal Service Office of Inspector General. The report drew widespread attention after being posted by the website 21st Century Postal Worker earlier this week.

The investigation was initially launched after Project Veritas, a far-right political operation seeking to undermine media outlets and tech companies, produced an affidavit from a "whistleblower" postal worker, Richard Hopkins, in November.

Hopkins claimed that he overheard other postal service employees in Erie County, Pennsylvania, backdating ballots that arrived in the mail. In the 2020 election, Pennsylvania counted only mail-in ballots sent by Election Day on November 3.

Hopkins recanted the affidavit he signed days later. A video obtained by Insider's Charles Davis showed that Hopkins had other people in the room as he swore to the affidavit over Zoom.

The Inspector General report said Hopkins admitted he never actually heard other employees talking about backdating ballots in the first place.

"[Hopkins] revised his claims, eventually stating that he had not heard a conversation about ballots at all - rather he saw the Postmaster and Supervisor having a discussion and assumed it was about fraudulent ballot backdating," the report says. "[Hopkins] acknowledged that he had no evidence of any backdated presidential ballots."

The fake story was widely cited by Republicans as a reason to doubt the results of the presidential election. Then-President Donald Trump pushed the claims on his now-suspended Twitter account. Sen. Lindsay Graham used it as a basis to request that the Justice Department investigate the election results.

Now-President Joe Biden won the state of Pennsylvania by more than 81,000 votes in the election, and there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud. The highest-profile case of voter fraud in Pennsylvania is from a man who pretended to be his dead mother to cast an additional vote for Trump in a county he lost anyway.

OIG investigators also said they reviewed all the ballots in the post office where Hopkins worked that were postmarked November 3 and later and did not find any evidence of tampering.

"The physical examination of ballots produced no evidence of any backdated presidential election ballots at the Erie, PA Post Office," the report said.

Investigators also interviewed several other officials in the post office. None of them said they saw any evidence of backdated ballots, the report said.

The OIG report is yet another failure for Project Veritas, run by the conservative activist James O'Keefe. The organization is known for a series of high-profile "sting operations." Also in 2020, it released a video that baselessly attempted to link Rep. Ilhan Omar to voter fraud. O'Keefe didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Project Veritas is perhaps best known for attempting to plant false sexual misconduct allegations against 2017 Republican US Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. The Washington Post discovered the operation and published a story about how Veritas pushes its falsehoods. The Post won a 2018 Pulitzer Prize for that story and others about Moore's real-life sexual misconduct allegations.

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