"Bewildered... I can't really understand how something like that could happen."
Reaction from Carbon County commissioner Wayne Nothstein after hearing several mail-in military ballots were mistakenly opened by election staff and somehow discarded in Luzerne County.
A federal investigation is underway after nine mail-in military ballots were found thrown away. Seven of them were cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump. The other two were resealed before they were recovered so those votes are unknown. It's a discovery federal authorities call "troubling."
"We're going to be heavily watched by everyone across the country including the president all the way down to our own constituents," said Nothstein.
The incident brings to light new questions about the security of mail-in voting. Nothstein says things like this prove how important it is every part of the process is done correctly.
"Everything has to be double-checked and that's why we have so many extra people working in that office," said Nothstein.
The county's director of elections says military ballots, and all other mail-in and absentee ballots, are not supposed to be opened until ballot canvassing begins, which is in no event earlier than 7:00 am on Election Day.
"Then once we begin canvassing, we'll open the outside envelopes, those go to the side, we'll open the inside envelope and then we'll start processing and scanning," said Lisa Dart, Carbon County's director of elections.
In Carbon County, voters can mail back their ballot or drop it off at the elections office. You can go inside and deliver it or drop it through the door slot.
"It's just like a regular flip mail slot, however on the inside in our building it's a secure steel box so we only have the key," said Dart.
Officials ensure voters their ballot will stay safe and be counted, as long as they follow directions.
"We're under a microscope. We're going to do whatever we have to to ensure a safe, secure election in Carbon County," said Nothstein.
Carbon County expects close to 10,000 residents to cast their vote by mail this November. Officials say ballots are expected to arrive on Monday and they will begin sending them out to those who have applied for a mail-in ballot at the end of next week.