Local and federal authorities are investigating after a Los Angeles woman said she stumbled upon more than 100 mail-in ballots abandoned on a West Hollywood sidewalk this weekend while walking her dog.
Christina Repaci told Fox 11 Los Angeles she was walking her dog Saturday in the area of Oxford Avenue and Institute Place when she noticed a U.S. Postal Service box full of envelopes. Upon closer inspection, she realized they were mail-in ballots, and she began recording what she found on her cellphone.
The woman said she took the box home and counted 104 mail-in ballots inside. That’s when she began sending videos around to social media accounts and politicians and began contacting the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and other agencies to find out how to best report what she had found.
Finally, the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office organized a pick-up of the ballots. Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan came personally to retrieve the ballots from Repaci.
The Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office said in a statement that a mail tray was found containing approximately 104 unopened, outbound Vote by Mail ballots and additional mail pieces, and after organizing a secure pick-up of the ballots, new ballots have been reissued to the impacted voters.
"Early signs indicate that this was an incident of mail theft and not a directed attempt at disrupting the election," it said. "We are cooperating with the United States Postal Service and law enforcement to investigate."
This comes before the California primary scheduled for June 7 when voters will decide between challengers for incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom, as well as between candidates for U.S. Senate, state senator, attorney general, U.S. representative in Congress and other local races.
In Los Angeles, 12 primary candidates are hoping to replace outgoing Mayor Eric Garcetti. Seats for city controller, city attorney and City Council are also on the ballot.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, a Democrat who's been sparring with the county over its vaccine mandate for deputies amid a crime wave and homelessness crisis, is also seeking re-election.
"If it happens to someone else [and] they don't know what to do, they'll just put them in a dumpster or throw them in the trash," Repaci told Fox 11, fearing she might not be the only one to find abandoned ballots. "I just don't think it should have been this hard to figure out what to do with legal ballots. This is a country of freedom, and our votes should matter and something like this should never happen."