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California police discover hundreds of unopened mail ballots, drugs, and gun in sleeping felon's car ahead of recall election

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Police in Torrance, California, on Monday announced the discovery of hundreds of recall ballots in a vehicle where a felon was found passed out with narcotics, a loaded gun, and multiple driver's licenses in his possession.

Authorities found nearly 300 unopened mail ballots for the upcoming gubernatorial recall election in the vehicle, which was parked in the lot of a 7-Eleven convenience store on the night of Aug. 16, KTLA-TV reported.

According to a news release from the police department, officers also found a loaded firearm, methamphetamine, thousands of pieces of mail, a scale, and multiple California driver's licenses and credit cards that were in other people's names. The unidentified male suspect found asleep in the vehicle was also in possession of Xanax pills and is a felon, police said.

The man was arrested on suspicion of weapons, narcotics, and forgery violations. He was later released on his own recognizance, according to KABC-TV.

Police said the department's Special Investigations Division has partnered with the U.S. Postal Service and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Offices Public Integrity Unit to investigate the matter.

"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," the police department said in a statement. "This is an isolated incident and is not related to any additional thefts of election ballots."

"We want to remind our #TorranceCommunity, to report any suspicious activity surrounding any elections at 310-328-3456," the department added.

Investigators are unsure why the felon was in possession of the ballots or what he intended to do with them.

"The election ballots, they were un-tampered with, unopened, a little over 300 of them found, primarily from addresses in Lawndale," said Sgt. Mark Ponegalek with the Torrance Police Department. "There were some from Compton. We're still trying to figure out where all these belonged to at this time so we're working with the Los Angeles (county) election office as well as the U.S. Postal Inspector."

The discovery was made on the same day that absentee ballots were mailed out to registered California voters for the gubernatorial recall election on Sept. 14.

The Los Angeles County Registrar's office assured KABC-TV that there is no indication the ballots were taken in an attempt to alter the results of the recall vote and noted that other stolen mail was recovered with them.

"There's nothing to indicate this was focused on the election," the county registrar's office said.

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