Trump and his foot soldiers insist that mail-in ballots are rife with fraud and cannot be trusted. It’s a baseless claim, but one that Trump clings to in an effort to delegitimize the general election results before the fact. So when a handful of overseas absentee ballots showed up in the trash near the Luzerne County courthouse, his White House sprang into action, claiming (incorrectly as we now know) that this was evidence of vote tampering and demanding a full federal investigation of the scandal. It was especially remarkable that the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania David Freed — a Trump appointee — broke with this office’s tight-lipped standard operating procedure and publicly announced the investigation.

As it happened, the ballots were opened by mistake (their envelopes closely resemble those for absentee ballot applications) and improperly discarded by a private contractor. So as is often the case in our region, this is a story of incompetence rather than corruption. Corrupt claims of voter fraud by Trump will almost certainly continue, though.