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Many ballots recovered from burned Los Angeles-area drop box

October 20, 2020 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A significant number of ballots were recovered from a Los Angeles County ballot drop box found ablaze outside a suburban library during the weekend, an elections official said Tuesday.

Elections officials were examining 230 items just turned over by local police, said county Registrar-Recorder Dean C. Logan, noting that not all the material may be ballots.

“On the vast majority of them we are able to ascertain at a minimum the voter’s information, if not preserve the ballot itself,” Logan said in a briefing.

“We are reaching out to those voters and making sure that they know that we will get them another ballot, that they’ll have an opportunity to vote in this election,” he said.

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The fire occurred at 8 p.m. Sunday in Baldwin Park, east of Los Angeles. Firefighters put out the fire, cut open the box and pulled out envelopes, some charred.

Logan said officials immediately wanted to make sure there wasn’t an issue of widespread vandalism or attempts to block voting through the drop boxes.

“Preliminary indications indicate that’s not the case,” he said.

Ballots were last collected from the box shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday. Officials urged anyone who dropped off a ballot between Saturday morning and Sunday night to call in and some already have, Logan said.

The box was one of about 400 placed around the nation’s most populous county to provide options to voters for the Nov. 3 general election. California voters were mailed ballots they may return by mail or place in drop boxes. They may also vote in person.

Logan said ballots were being picked up from drop boxes every 48 hours but will now be collected daily. State regulations require ballot box collections at least every 96 hours.

The drop boxes are important, Logan said.

More than 1 million ballots, representing 18% of the county’s 5.7 million registered voters, have already been cast in the election and more than half have been received through the drop boxes, Logan said.

The fire was reported to federal and state law enforcement because it is a federal and state election, he said.

“We take the integrity of the elections process very seriously,” he said. “There’s been concern in the national narrative about attempts to disrupt the process or to create barriers to voting in this election, and any sign whether even if it’s just the appearance of that it’s something that we want to respond to quickly.”

Officials plan to place a new ballot box in Baldwin Park.