Discarded Mail-in Ballots Found Outside ATM in California

A woman in California said she stumbled across some discarded mail-in ballots outside a drive-thru ATM, sparking concern that the voters they were addressed to would be disenfranchised.

Kandace Rushiddin said she grabbed five ballots off the ground outside the Bank of America at 29th Street and Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles. She told CBS Los Angeles that there were more, but she was not able to gather them all.

The ballots were addressed to residents of an apartment complex less than a mile from where Rushiddin found them, according to the station.

Mars Quinonez, who lives in the building, said the complex "constantly gets broken into" and that mail theft was common.

Quinonez did receive her ballot, but said she was concerned for her neighbors. "It's worrisome, because how are you going to vote?" she said.

"Some people might still be waiting for their ballots thinking that they'll just come later and not get them and by the time they realize and ask for another one it might be too late."

Rushiddin said it was "disheartening" to come across the discarded ballots and that she was not sure if they were intentionally stolen. "Is this meant to suppress the vote? I don't know," she said.

In a statement to Newsweek, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office said: "Los Angeles County began mailing over 5.6 million ballots for the Presidential General Election—to ensure all voters have safe voting options.

"Any voter who has questions or concerns on their ballot is encouraged to visit our website to find information on how to vote by mail and their safe return options. If a voter comes into contact with ballots that are not addressed to them then we ask they contact our office as soon as possible so we can assist."

The incident comes after more than 2,000 voters in Los Angeles County received mail-in ballots that did not include the presidential race.

The registrar's office apologized for the error, but noted that it had affected just over 2,100 voters out of more than 5.6 million registered voters in the county.

Mail-in ballots are under heightened scrutiny this election season, with record numbers of voters having requested them amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump and his allies have baselessly attacked the process as ripe for widespread fraud.

In May, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order so that all registered voters in the state would receive a mail-in ballot before the November election to safely vote during the pandemic. Before the order, Californians had to request absentee ballots if they wanted to vote by mail.

California voters who have not received their mail ballot can check its progress on the California Secretary of State's website.

This article has been updated with a statement from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office.

Ballot box
An official mail-in ballot drop box is posted outside of a library in Los Angeles, California. ahead of Election Day on October 5, 2020. Mario Tama/Getty Images