A Postal Service worker who made unfounded allegations of ballot tampering inside a facility in Erie, Pa., has disavowed his claims, the post office’s inspector general informed Congress on Tuesday, deflating an attempt by Republicans to suggest there was widespread fraud in Pennsylvania’s voting.
Richard Hopkins, a post office employee in Erie, “completely” recanted allegations that a supervisor was “tampering with mail-in ballots” after investigators questioned him, the inspector general’s office said, according to the Democratic leadership of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
Mr. Hopkins had claimed in a sworn affidavit given to the Trump campaign that he overheard what he believed to be a discussion about the backdating of postmarks on ballots that arrived at the postal facility after Election Day.
Ballots must have been postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3, to count. The implication of Mr. Hopkins’s claim was that postal workers had backdated ballots that should have been disqualified.
Under Pennsylvania procedures put in place during the coronavirus pandemic, mail-in ballots that arrived at election offices after Election Day have been separated from those that arrived by Nov. 3. They have not been added to the vote tallies for any candidate, and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has won Pennsylvania without them.
Nevertheless, Republicans, eager to find evidence of wrongdoing to bolster President Trump’s fiction that the election was stolen from him, circulated Mr. Hopkins’s affidavit and amplified it.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who has urged Mr. Trump to continue to fight the results of the election, sent Mr. Hopkins’s affidavit to reporters along with a statement that read in part: “I will not allow credible allegations of voting irregularities or misconduct to be swept under the rug.” He later acknowledged in a television interview on Sunday that the claims he circulated were unverified.
Mr. Hopkins did not respond to a request for comment over the weekend.
The inspector general’s office told Congress that Mr. Hopkins had recanted his allegations on Monday but “did not explain why he signed a false affidavit,” according to the oversight committee’s staff.