The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and officials with San Diego County’s elections office confirmed they are investigating mail-in ballots that were found scattered along a local San Diego freeway this week.
Several ballots were found by a local driver, Brent Walters, who told Fox5 San Diego that he found them on June 7 on the same day as California’s primary elections near Route 163 and Interstate 8.
Walters told the outlet that he found the small stack, took photos, and shared his concerns with the office of San Diego County Registrar of Voters Cynthia Paes.
Paes confirmed that they collected the unopened mail-in ballots from Walters. It’s not clear how the mail ended up on the side of an interstate.
“We visited the site and recovered an additional two unopened ballot envelopes as well as other mail pieces unrelated to the Registrar of Voters office,” Paes told the local Fox broadcaster.
The incident, she said, was referred to the U.S. Postal Service as “a suspected case of stolen mail.” Paes didn’t elaborate.
“Postal Inspectors are currently investigating the incident and unable to comment further at this time,” Postal Inspector Patricia Mendoza told the outlet.
The incident comes several weeks after a woman walking her dog in Hollywood discovered mail-in ballots discarded on a sidewalk.
“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,” the LA County Registrar’s Office told local media outlets in mid-May. “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.”
In that incident, the Registrar’s Office said that the incident was “mail theft” and wasn’t “a directed attempt at disrupting the election.”
Mail-in ballots have been flagged by Republicans and others as being flawed and insecure. Following the 2020 election, which saw a significant expansion of vote-by-mail policies, a number of Republican-led states have introduced measures to limit such measures.
Earlier this year, an election watchdog group found that at least 137,500 absentee ballots were cast in Wisconsin’s largest cities during the 2020 election via unlawful vote trafficking. The group, TTV, said it made the analysis after it purchased some 10 trillion unique cell phone identity signals, known as “pings,” to reconstruct the movements of ballot box intermediaries during that election.
California’s primary elections were held on June 7.
The U.S. Postal Service did not immediately return a request for comment on Thursday.