Ballot Box Fire In California May Be Arson, Officials Say
A ballot box in Baldwin Park, California, was discovered ablaze on Sunday evening, torching as many as 100 ballots inside, according to The Los Angeles Times.
- Firefighters tried putting a hose through the drop slot to extinguish the flames, and eventually used a power saw to cut the box open, put out the fire and retrieve the burned ballots.
- The Baldwin Park Police Department took custody of the charred and soaked ballots, The Times reported, and were slated to transfer them to the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder’s office on Monday.
- Los Angeles County Fire Department spokeswoman Leslie Lua said the cause of the fire was not immediately clear but that arson was being investigated as a possibility. Lua also said if the fire is a result of arson, it would be the first such case in the country.
“It angers me,” Baldwin Park Mayor Manuel Lozano said Monday. “You’re literally denying someone’s constitutional right to vote, and that’s unacceptable.”
Lozano said as many as 100 ballots may have been in the box at the time of its ignition, and that he hopes people in his community won’t lose faith in the system. He has already heard from several residents who said they’re now planning to hold onto their ballots, or at least wait until they can go vote in person.
“This is supposed to be secure, it’s supposed to be safe,” Lozano said. “Residents should be able to use [the ballot boxes] and feel confident that their vote will make its way up to the voter registrar’s office. Now that it’s been compromised, you’re going to have second thoughts.”
- L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn called the fire "an attack on our democracy," and "said she is now requesting that all ballot boxes be emptied nightly through Election Day, just over two weeks away. Ballot boxes were previously only emptied every 72 hours."