Authorities said Monday that they discovered 300 unopened vote-by-mail California recall election ballots, illegal drugs and a gun inside a person’s vehicle Aug. 16, Eyewitness News reported.
The Torrance Police Department was notified that an unidentified man was sleeping in his car located in a 7-Eleven parking lot around 10:45 p.m., Eyewitness News reported. Upon arrival, police discovered xanax, methamphetamine, a handgun, ballots, along with credit cards and driver’s licenses belonging to other people located in the backseat of his car, said Sgt. Mark Ponegalek of Torrance Police Department.
“Inside the vehicle, the officers found a loaded handgun, some narcotics, and then they found a bunch of mail and what turned out to be over 300 election ballots in the backseat of the vehicle,” Ponegalek said. “They appeared to be in a box, but they were also kind of strewn across the backseat of the vehicle and so there was just a large portion of mail in that backseat.”
Shortly after police arrested the suspect, the court released him on his own recognizance, a legal court decision in which a defendant is released without bail for formally agreeing to appear in future court cases, the outlet reported. Police are unsure of how he obtained the ballots and of his reasoning for storing them in his car. (RELATED: Voting Equipment Stolen From Pennsylvania Warehouse, Election Officials Say)
Torrance Police recovered more than 300 unopened California recall election ballots inside the vehicle of a suspect who was found passed out in his car at a 7-Eleven parking lot, along with a gun and drugs, authorities said Monday. https://t.co/j87HMufu5h
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) August 23, 2021
The ballots were mailed to residents of California in preparation for the Sept. 14 recall special election of the state’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Los Angeles County Registrar’s office told the outlet. The Recall Gavin Newsom 2020 movement rapidly grew amid growing anger to the governor’s enforcement of stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading opponents of Newsom to collect thousands of signatures on a petition aimed at the special election.
Under California law, a governor must endure a recall election if 12% of the state’s voters sign a petition for the special election. In an April 26 announcement, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber confirmed that 1,626,042 voters signed the petition, officially establishing a recall election.
Police said the ballots in the suspect’s car were unopened and mostly addressed to residents living in Lawndale and Compton, according to Eyewitness News. The county registrar’s office said they do not suspect the ballots were taken in an effort to interfere in the election.
“There’s nothing to indicate this was focused on the election,” the office told the outlet.
The police department is currently in the process of submitting all the names included on the discovered ballots to the registrar’s office in order for new ballots to be mailed to the voters, Eyewitness News reported.