A cache of 300 stolen ballots was discovered in Torrance, California, police have announced.
The ballots, which were found in the car of a passed-out felon, were discovered mere days after absentee ballots were sent to voters for the Sept. 14 recall election of California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, according to KTLA-TV.
The Torrance Police Department recounted a brief version of the incident in a Facebook post last week.
“Last night, officers responded to a male subject passed out in a vehicle in the 7-11 parking lot. Officers learned he was a felon & located Xanax pills on him,” the department posted.
“Officers continued their investigation and discovered a loaded firearm, methamphetamine, thousands of pieces of mail, a scale & multiple CA drivers licenses and credit cards in other individuals’ names. The suspect was arrested for numerous weapons, narcotics & forgery charges.”
#NEW Authorities are investigating why 300 outgoing vote-by-mail ballots for the upcoming recall election were found – along with a gun and drugs – in a car parked at a Torrance convenience store @ABC7 https://t.co/87zUcI92jf
— Josh Haskell (@abc7JoshHaskell) August 23, 2021
Then came a follow-up Facebook post that announced what some of those stolen pieces of mail actually were.
“Regarding the arrest that was made 8/16/2021 in which over 300 election ballots were recovered from the suspect’s vehicle. This case is currently being investigated by our Special Investigations Division in partnership with the U.S. Postal Service and the LA County District Attorney Public Integrity Unit,” the department posted.
“Investigators are trying to figure out how the election ballots ended up in the suspect’s vehicle and what their intent was in having them. In the meantime, those who were identified through this investigation will be receiving a new election ballot,” the department wrote.
Torrance police said that so far, this appears to be an isolated incident.
“Inside the vehicle, the officers found a loaded handgun, some narcotics, and then they found a bunch of mail and what turned out to be over 300 election ballots in the backseat of the vehicle,” said Sgt. Mark Ponegalek with the Torrance Police Department, according to KABC-TV.
“They appeared to be in a box, but they were also kind of strewn across the backseat of the vehicle and so there was just a large portion of mail in that backseat.”
“The election ballots, they were un-tampered with, unopened, a little over 300 of them found, primarily from addresses in Lawndale,” Ponegalek said. “There were some from Compton. We’re still trying to figure out where all these belonged to at this time so we’re working with the Los Angeles (county) election office as well as the U.S. Postal Inspector.”
The name of the man arrested has not yet been released. KABC reported he was released on his own recognizance.
Voting has begun. If you’ve received your ballot in the mail, vote YES on Question 1 to #RecallGavinNewsom
Vote for me, Larry Elder, on Question 2, because #WeveGotAStateToSave!
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) August 24, 2021
The gubernatorial recall election in California will take place in two parts. Voters will be asked if they want to recall Newsom, and if they do, who they want to replace him with. There are 46 candidates on the ballot, comprising people from both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Conservative talk show host Larry Elder, a Republican, currently is the leader among those seeking to replace Newsom.
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