A drop-off box for ballots in the Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Park was intentionally set on fire on Sunday night, ruining a collection of completed ballots before firefighters could put out the blaze, local officials said.
The police are collecting video footage and investigating the incident as arson. There were more than 200 ballots inside, Mayor Manuel Lozano of Baldwin Park told CBS Los Angeles.
Firefighters dropped a hose into the ballot box to put out the flames, then cut open the box and removed dozens of damaged ballots, which appeared to be charred or soaked.
“We’re going to save as many ballots as we can,” a firefighter can be heard saying in a video taken by a bystander.
The Los Angeles County Registrar’s office said in a statement that it would notify voters whose ballots were affected “and will ensure they can exercise their fundamental right to vote.”
Hilda L. Solis, a Los Angeles County supervisor, said the fire had “all the signs of an attempt to disenfranchise voters and call into question the security of our elections.”
“Tampering, or attempts to tamper, with our democracy will not be tolerated,” she said.
At the time of the fire, it had been nearly 36 hours since the last time ballots had last been picked up from the box. The registrar’s office said it was “immediately increasing the frequency of ballot pickup at all other boxes.”
In addition to the Los Angeles police investigation, the registrar’s office reported the incident to the F.B.I. and the attorney general.