Over a dozen ballots were found in trash cans in California this week, said the local man who discovered them.
Osvaldo Jiménez, 43, found the ballots among other discarded mail in separate receptacles on Virginia Avenue in Santa Monica on Oct. 8. Jiménez was walking his dog in the afternoon when he opened a trash can on his street to deposit his dog’s waste.
“The first thing that caught my eye was a big bulk of white envelopes and other miscellaneous mailings in the dumpster,” Jiménez told The Epoch Times.
“I thought it was just somebody pulling a prank on me or something, because you don’t find that stuff in the trash can. And as I started digging through the envelopes, I came across a bunch of mail-in ballots.”
Bank statements and cards from the Employment Development Department, a state agency, were also among the discarded mail.
Jiménez went home, grabbed a paper bag, and returned to the trash can to collect the discarded mail.
He called the Santa Monica Police Department. Nearly four hours later, two officers showed up with a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employee.
Saul Rodriguez, a police spokesman, told the The Epoch Times via email that “a small bundle of mail which included unvoted ballots associated with one apartment building was located by a resident.”
Police and the USPS “were able to both investigate and ensure delivery of the unvoted ballots,” he said.
A USPS spokeswoman forwarded an inquiry to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the USPS. The service didn’t return the inquiry.
Oscar de la Torre, a city council candidate, called for an investigation into the discarded ballots as he urged voters to drop off completed ballots to official voting centers.
Santa Monica is a city of some 91,000, about 17 miles west of Los Angeles, in Los Angeles County.
Jiménez that same day found another batch of discarded mail in a different receptacle, a recycling bin, after putting an Amazon box inside. That batch also contained ballots.
“Two times in one day and both are in a trash can. That’s kind of fishy,” Jiménez told The Epoch Times.
Police officers and a USPS employee returned again and took custody of that mail.
Jiménez said the officials appeared nonchalant about his findings and did not ask questions, nor did they take fingerprints.
However, USPS postal inspectors interviewed him the following day. During the interview, a postal inspector “said that that was an inside job,” Jiménez said.
“So I do believe that it was an inside job because if it was a thief, to leave bank statements in the trash? That’s the first thing a thief is going to take.”
A USPS mail carrier in New Jersey was arrested this week for allegedly dumping mail, including ballots, into dumpsters. Surveillance video showed a USPS contractor throwing out bags of mail in Glendale, California, last month. In July, a USPS mail carrier in West Virginia pleaded guilty to attempted election fraud after stealing mail and altering absentee ballot requests.
Another two batches of discarded mail were found elsewhere in California this week. An investigation is underway, authorities said.
Jiménez has seen stories about mail being stolen or discarded. Finding it himself, though, has spurred him to action.
“I’m really telling my family and friends just to go and vote in person, because if you send it by mail, who knows if your vote is going to be counted,” he said.