Ballot Drop Box Set On Fire In Boston

Ballot Drop Box Set On Fire In Boston

Topline

A drop box for mail-in ballots was set on fire in Boston early Sunday morning, possibly damaging dozens of votes, another worrying disruption just nine days before Election Day.

Boston Police Department

Key Facts

The Boston Fire Department responded to reports of a ballot box on fire in the city’s Back Bay neighborhood at around 4:00 a.m. on Sunday, and firefighters extinguished the flames by filling the box with water.

The box contained about 122 ballots at the time, 87 of which still appeared to be legible enough for processing, local election officials said after a review.

Boston plans to mail new ballots to everybody whose votes were found in the box, and if those voters do not send back new ballots, officials will try to count the original ones.

The Boston Police Department arrested a man they believe was responsible for the fire on Sunday night, though the department did not cite a motive for his alleged actions.

Federal authorities are also investigating the incident, U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling and FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta said in a statement Sunday.

Crucial Quote

“What happened in the early hours of this morning to the ballot dropbox in Copley Square is a disgrace to democracy, a disrespect to the voters fulfilling their civic duty, and a crime,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin wrote in a statement Sunday. “We ask voters not to be intimidated by this bad act.”

Key Background

In the runup to a tense presidential election, authorities are looking into numerous reported cases of voter intimidation nationwide, including various unrelated threats against voters and a coordinated wave of menacing emails that was later alleged to be part of an Iranian influence operation. Another ballot box was set on fire in Los Angeles last week, possibly damaged around 100 votes.

Further Reading

Fire set inside ballot drop box outside Boston Public Library, secretary of state says (WCVB)

Voter Intimidation Ramping Up As Election Day Approaches—Here Are The Claims Being Investigated (Forbes)

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