Authorities are investigating after a Los Angeles woman discovered a box of more than 100 unopened mail-in ballots sitting on the sidewalk in East Hollywood.
Christina Repaci was walking her dog Saturday evening when she discovered a USPS box filled with unopened envelopes.
"I turned the corner and I just saw this box of envelopes, and it was a USPS box. I picked some envelopes up and I saw they were ballots," Repaci told KTVU-TV.
Those envelopes turned out to be 104 mail-in ballots, which were sent to registered voters for the upcoming primary election on June 7.
Repaci said she took the box home for safekeeping while she figured out what to do next. She turned to social media for help, recording videos of the ballots and sending them to popular influencers to share the content and crowd-source guidance on what to do. Repaci contacted several politicians and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, she said.
"I actually called the Sheriff's Department. I couldn't get through, so I emailed them," she said. "I got an email back from a deputy basically in so many words saying it wasn't their problem, and to contact the USPS."
Eventually, the L.A. County Registrar's Office contacted Repaci and sent someone to collect the ballots. Registrar Dean Logan personally went to pick them up.
"He (Logan) picked them up. I made sure he was legit. He gave me a card, and took a photo of the box," she said, describing the process as "stressful."
"It was so much stress and for just one person to get back to me. What do I do here? Now if it happens to someone else, they don't know what to do. They'll just put them in a dumpster or throw them in the trash. 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," said Repaci.
The L.A. County Registrar's Office released a statement on the recovered ballots.
"Our office was notified over the weekend of a mail tray found containing approximately 104 unopened, outbound Vote by Mail ballots and additional mail pieces. Thanks to the cooperation of the person who found the ballots, we were able to quickly respond and coordinate the secure pickup of the ballots. We have reissued new ballots to the impacted voters. Early signs indicate that this was an incident of mail theft and not a directed attempt at disrupting the election. We are cooperating with the United States Postal Service and law enforcement to investigate," the Registrar's office said.
California adopted universal mail-in voting last year and automatically sends registered voters a mail-in ballot. The ballots may be returned by mail, at a secure drop box, or in person for the state's primary election on June 7. Early voting is already underway and will remain available until June 6.