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US California ballot drop box set ablaze in possible arson, damaging up to 100 ballots

20:16  20 october  2020
20:16  20 october  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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A ballot drop box in a majority-Latino town in California was set on fire Sunday night, which may have destroyed up to 100 ballots two weeks before the Nov. 3 election.

a close up of a sign: An official mail-in ballot drop box is posted outside of a library ahead of Election Day on October 5, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. One of these boxes was set on fire, in an incident officials are investigating as arson. © Mario Tama, Getty Images An official mail-in ballot drop box is posted outside of a library ahead of Election Day on October 5, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. One of these boxes was set on fire, in an incident officials are investigating as arson.

Los Angeles County officials are investigating the fire, which took place in Baldwin Park — a suburb nearly 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles with a nearly three-quarters Latino populationn.

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“The arson of an official ballot drop box by the Baldwin Park Library in the First District has all the signs of an attempt to disenfranchise voters and call into question the security of our elections,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis in a statement.

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“Tampering, or attempts to tamper, with our democracy will not be tolerated.”

The County Registar’s Office has asked both the FBI and the Attorney General to investigate the fire.

It remains unclear how many ballots were affected by the fire due to burns or water damage, but Baldwin Park Mayor Manuel Lozano told KABC-TV in Los Angeles that there were around 100 in the box that were damaged.

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A video shared by Baldwin Park resident George Silva shows firefighters sawing through. Once the drop box was unsealed, with smoke coming out, firefighters removed dozens of ballots.

Posted by George Silva on Sunday, October 18, 2020

Per The Guardian, the fire department spent around two hours handling the incident.

The last pickup for that particular box, per a statement from the County Registar’s Office, was Saturday morning. The agency did not immediately respond to USA TODAY's request for comment.

The box has since been blocked off to prevent more people from submitting ballots. The county also said it will increase pickups at all other drop boxes.

Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California ballot drop box set ablaze in possible arson, damaging up to 100 ballots

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California, Colorado and New Hampshire are among more than 20 states where it’s legal to take a ballot selfie. But in Illinois it’s punishable by up to three years in prison. © Rick Bowmer / AP Jennifer Fresques takes a selfie before inserting her ballot into an official ballot drop box Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

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