Federal authorities are investigating suspected arson of a ballot box in Boston after the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office notified them of the incident, CNN reported.
Firefighters responded to a call about the fire just after 4 a.m. Sunday at the Boston Public Library’s main branch in Copley Square and put out the blaze by filling the box with water. Boston Police released two images of a man they say they’re trying to identify. In one image, a man clearly appears to be holding something with a bright flame as he approaches the ballot box.
The Boston Elections Department said on Twitter that 87 of the 122 ballots inside the box were “legible and able to be processed.” The department said it last picked up ballots from the box on Saturday afternoon and will mail new ballots to all voters whose ballots were identified as being in that drop box at that time.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin called the incident “a disgrace to democracy, a disrespect to the voters fulfilling their civic duty, and a crime.”
“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,” they said in a joint statement.
“We’re going to insist on prosecuting whoever did this and want them to know they’re going to be apprehended and go to jail,” Galvin said.
Mr. Galvin’s office referred the matter to the F.B.I. Massachusetts US Attorney Andrew Lelling and FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta issued a joint statement that said federal officials were investigating the incident.
“For the next several weeks, 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 said, adding that members of the public should report any suspicious, election-related activity to authorities.
The Boston incident isn’t the first in this election. CNN affiliate KABC last week reported that someone intentionally set fire to a ballot box in Baldwin Park, California, on October 18.