WASHINGTON — A U.S. Postal Service mail carrier in New Jersey was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly throwing out mail, including 99 general election ballots.
Nicholas Beauchene, 26, of Kearny, New Jersey, was arrested and charged with one count of delay, secretion, or detention of mail and one count of obstruction of mail, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.
The federal prosecutor said in total 1,875 pieces of mail were found in dumpsters between Oct. 2 and Oct. 5. It included 627 pieces of first-class mail, 873 pieces of standard class mail, two pieces of certified mail, 99 general election ballots destined for residents in West Orange, New Jersey, and 276 campaign flyers from local candidates for West Orange Town Council and Board of Education.
Officials said that the thrown out mail was placed back into the mail stream and will be delivered to residents. Copies of each item have been made and will be stored as evidence against Beauchene.
If found guilty, Beauchene faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Mail-in ballots are under heightened scrutiny this year as voters request them in record numbers amid the coronavirus pandemic and President Donald Trump launches attacks against the process.
Snafus occur during every election, but experts say there should be adequate time between now and the close of polls on Nov. 3 to resolve them.
“In a normal election year, there are stories of voting machines configured for the wrong precinct. As voters shift to voting by mail, the equivalent error is a batch of ballots mailed out with the wrong ballot style,” said Doug Jones, a University of Iowa election technology expert.
Elections officials, ballot suppliers and security researchers say such problems do occur with some regularity. They don’t indicate fraud, they say, but rather human error.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.