Boston ballot drop box set on fire: A ‘disgrace to democracy’

Police arrested a man they believe may have set fire to a ballot drop-off box near the Boston Public Library.

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A ballot drop box outside of the Boston Public Library was set on fire and police have arrested a man who may be involved.

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A press release issued by the Boston Police Department shared two images of an unidentified subject allegedly setting fire to the drop box. The statement detailed around 4:11 AM on Sunday, October 25, officers responded to a request for BPD response to the area of 700 Boylston Street in Boston. The officers arrived on the scene to find Boston Fire battling smoke coming from an early voting ballot box.

The box appeared to be on fire, however, firefighters were unable to determine if the fire was burning inside of the box. Eventually, crews extinguished the fire by filling the ballot box with water.

Police arrested Worldy Armand, a 39-year-old who was described as having mental issues by officials. Armand was due in court on Monday to face a charge of willful and malicious burning.

“I do not believe that this individual is plotting against our democracy,” Rachael Rollins, Suffolk County’s district attorney, told reporters in Roxbury, according to audio provided by her office. “I think he is emotionally disturbed, is what I am told.”

Rollins added that she did not believe that the crime committed arose to the level of a federal one but has been in contact with authorities.

“If this were somebody with the facts maybe being a little bit different, there could potentially be a federal charge. We believe that this was the act of an individual that we have jurisdiction over,” Rollins said.

Read More: Early voting for 2020 election surpasses total 2016 early ballots

Secretary of State William F. Galvin previously contacted US Attorney Andrew Lelling’s office and that the FBI is investigating the incident.

“Our first and foremost priority is maintaining the integrity of our elections process and ensuring transparency and trust with our voters, and any effort to undermine or tamper with that process must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said a joint statement released by Galvin and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh according to the report. “We ask voters not to be intimidated by this bad act, and remain committed to making their voices heard in this and every election.”

Walsh suggested local election officials around the state should increase in-person security measures at drop box locations.

Boston Globe reported there were 122 ballots inside the box, 87 of which were legible and able to be processed after the incident. Of the remaining 35, some of the ballots “probably could be read,” meaning they could possibly be saved, but five to 10 were “badly damaged” and unreadable. Walsh provided these numbers to the outlet during a phone interview. All 17 official drop box locations in Boston are under 24/7 video surveillance and are emptied daily.

theGrio reported last week that a ballot box in California was also set on fire. According to the report, an estimated up to 100 damaged ballots were damaged by the fire or the water used to put out the flames.

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