Boston ballot drop box set on fire

Surveillance footage of man setting fire to the drop box.

A Boston ballot drop box was deliberately set on fire on Sunday, Oct. 25, damaging dozens of ballots. The following day, scorched up mail was found in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox close to the site of the drop box arson. It is not yet clear if the instances are connected.

The ballot drop box in question is located outside of the Boston Public Library downtown, while the mailbox with the charred mail was also located in Copley Square. Officials removed the mailbox, and a United States Postal Inspector took custody of the mailbox and its contents. 

The ballot drop box fire was set around 4 a.m. Sunday morning. The officers who were called to the scene witnessed smoke emerging from the box until firefighters extinguished the fire by filling the drop box with water.

Sunday evening, police released photos of the suspect. Worldly Armand, a 39 year-old Boston resident, was taken into custody Sunday night after officers patrolling Copley Square saw a man matching the description of the suspect. Upon talking to him, the police deduced that Armand had an active warrant out from the Ipswich District Court for receiving stolen property.

Armand was identified by members of the fire investigation unit as the suspect while he was in custody.

Armand was brought in front of a court on Monday morning, and faces the charge of willful and malicious burning according to the Boston Police Department. 

Armand was declared to have mental health issues by both the prosecution and the defense, however, Armand declined to speak to a psychologist in court. 

According to WCVB, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said: "I do not believe that this individual is plotting against our democracy. I think that he is emotionally disturbed."

The drop box contained 122 ballots as of Sunday morning, and 87 of them were still readable, and will be able to be processed. 

A photo of the statement from the Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, and Secretary of State, William Galvin, was posted on the mayor’s Twitter.

“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,” read the statement.

“We ask voters not to be intimidated by this bad act, and remain committed to making their voices heard in this and every election,” the statement continued. 

According to boston.com, “Massachusetts’ elections chief said he has directed local officials to boost security at drop boxes with guards and video surveillance, and to empty the boxes frequently. 

The drop boxes have been in place since Oct. 17, and have been monitored by 24/7 surveillance since then as well.

On Sunday, the FBI said it was investigating the incident.

“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 statement announcing the FBI investigation read.

This incident of setting fire to a ballot drop box is not the first the nation has seen this election cycle. On Sunday, October 18, a fire broke out in a ballot drop box in Los Angeles. The fire also damaged dozens of ballots, and is under investigation for arson. 

Voters who used the drop box outside of the Boston Public Library after 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and before 4 a.m. on Sunday should go to https://www.sec.state.ma.us/wheredoivotema/track/trackmyballot.aspx to see if their ballot has been received. 

If those voters cannot figure out if their ballot has been received through the website, they should contact the Boston Election Department immediately.

Voters who were affected by the drop box fire will be mailed a new ballot, or will be able to vote in person.

 

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