The FBI has joined the investigation into a torched ballot dropbox outside the Boston Public Library that was set ablaze early Sunday morning, destroying 35 ballots cast by city voters, officials confirmed.
“Federal authorities are now investigating this matter,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and FBI special agent in charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta in a joint statement Sunday night. “For the next several weeks, it is a top priority of our offices to help maintain the integrity of the election process in Massachusetts by aggressively enforcing federal election laws.”
The state’s top elections official, Secretary of State William Galvin, along with Mayor Martin Walsh expressed outrage earlier in the day and urged local officials to increase security at ballot dropboxes across the state.
“What happened in the early hours of this morning to the ballot drop box in Copley Square is a disgrace to democracy, a disrespect to the voters fulfilling their civic duty, and a crime,” said Galvin and Walsh in a joint statement.
Galvin and Walsh pledged that “any effort to undermine or tamper” with the elections process will “be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
City Councilor Ed Flynn, whose district includes Copley Square, called the arson attempt “a threat to our democracy” in an election where more than 1 million voters have already returned vote-by-mail ballots, including just over 70,000 in Boston alone.
Flynn assured voters the city is “beefing up security” at ballot dropboxes across the city.
Of the 122 ballots inside the dropbox, 87 were legible and able to be processed, the Boston Elections Department told Galvin’s office. The ballot dropbox was not substantially damaged and is still available for use.
Voters who used the Copley Square dropbox between 2:30 p.m. on Saturday — when the dropbox was last emptied — and 4 a.m. on Sunday can track their ballots at TrackMyBallotMA.com to confirm receipt.
Affected voters will be mailed a replacement ballot. If a replacement ballot is not cast, the original ballot will be hand-counted to the extent possible by the city’s elections department.
Galvin is urging local elections officials to empty dropboxes frequently, employ dropbox guards and add video surveillance in light of dozens of reported instances of arson and other attacks on ballot dropboxes from Massachusetts to California.
Voters can use ballot dropboxes to turn in vote-by-mail ballots until the close of polls on Election Day, Nov. 3.
(c) 2020 the Boston Herald
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