A person deposits their ballot at an official drop box.
Someone set a newspaper on fire and slipped it into an official ballot drop box in Baldwin Park, damaging up to 100 ballots on Oct. 18, 2020. Credit: Los Angeles County/@CountyofLA on Twitter.

Baldwin Park Ballot Box Fire Deemed Arson

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A fire that destroyed as many as 100 ballots in a Baldwin Park ballot drop box is being investigated as arson.

The official drop box — not to be confused with the unsanctioned containers dotting at least three California counties via the state Republican Party — stood close to the Baldwin Park Library near Baldwin Park and Ramona boulevards. At about 8 p.m. Sunday night, someone set a newspaper on fire and slipped it into the ballot box. Some of the ballots caught fire while others got soaked as firefighters put out the blaze, according to ABC 7. Baldwin Park Mayor Manuel Lozano said 100 ballots may have been damaged.

According to a statement from L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who oversees the First District where Baldwin Park is located, the incident has been reported to the FBI and the attorney general.

“Tampering, or attempts to tamper, with our democracy will not be tolerated,” Solis wrote. “Rest assured, L.A. County residents’ voices will be heard when they vote, including in this election.”

The last time county employees checked up on the ballot drop box was on Oct. 17 at 10:10 a.m., about 34 hours before the fire. In response to the fire, the county registrar’s office says it will increase the frequency at which they collect ballots.

Anyone who submitted their ballot to this drop box after the morning of Oct. 17 can call (562) 503-2445 or email [email protected] to check on its status. The registrar’s office has received what was left of the box’s contents and will also attempt to notify anyone whose ballot was damaged in the fire. As a reminder, anyone can go to LAVote.net to make a voting plan or here to track their ballot.

Authorities are still looking for the alleged arsonist. Tampering with these ballot drop boxes is a felony, per California Elections Code 18500, punishable with 16 months to three years in jail.

Los Angeleno