Police in Torrance, California, on Tuesday were investigating the discovery of about 300 recall election ballots in a vehicle where a felon was found passed out with drugs, a loaded firearm and multiple driver’s licenses.
The alarming discovery occurred in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven convenience store Aug. 16, according to the Torrance Police Department, multiple news outlets reported.
“Investigators are trying to figure out how the election ballots ended up in the suspect’s vehicle and what their intent was in having them,” police officials said in a statement to KTLA.
“This is an isolated incident and is not related to any additional thefts of election ballots.”
The discovery came the same day that absentee ballots were mailed out to registered California voters for the upcoming Sept. 14 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., KTLA reported.
Sgt. Mark Ponegalek of the Torrance Police Department told ABC affiliate KABC 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.”
“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,” he told KABC.
“The election ballots, they were untampered with, unopened, a little over 300 of them found, primarily from addresses in Lawndale,” Ponegalek added. “There were some from Compton. We’re still trying to figure out where all these belonged.”
Police are also working with officials to ensure that all voters affected by the thefts get new ballots, Ponegalek told the Los Angeles Times. Ballots are mailed with unique barcodes assigned to each voter.
The suspect, whose name wasn’t released, was arrested on suspicion of “numerous weapons, narcotics and forgery charges,” police said.
The incident isn’t tied to additional ballot thefts, authorities added.
Torrance police are working with other law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service and the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, to determine how the man got the ballots and what he planned to do with them, Ponegalek told the LA Times.
The Torrance Police Department is also submitting the names and addresses found on the front of the recovered ballots to the registrar’s office so ballots can be reissued, KABC reported.