Authorities with the U.S. Postal Service are investigating how nearly 100 sample ballots wound up in a Berkeley recycling bin last week along with the plastic ties that kept them bound together. As part of the same investigation, they are also looking into mistakenly returned mail that caused at least one Berkeley voter to lose his active registration status.
The Alameda County Registrar of Voters office says the problems are “isolated,” but some local residents say they aren’t so sure.
Longtime North Berkeley resident Scott Wheeler spotted the dumped voter guides last Wednesday, Oct. 12, in a bin near the 1600 block of Walnut Street when he was looking for discarded egg cartons for a friend’s chicken farm.
Wheeler said he was particularly concerned because he had just learned, the prior week, he had been inactivated by the Registrar of Voters due to some mistakenly returned mail. He said it was a real coincidence that both of the issues happened to him, and that he saw that coincidence as “serendipitous.”
“When I found those things in the bin, boy did I get cracking on this,” he said.
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Wheeler said he is concerned there’s an issue with a mail carrier potentially shirking duties in the neighborhood — or an even broader issue with the U.S. Postal Service — which could have potentially problematic results for elections. He said he also thinks the Registrar of Voters office needs to take more responsibility for the problems and do its own investigation and public outreach.
Augustine Ruiz Jr., a spokesman for the USPS in the Bay Area, confirmed Monday that the agency’s Office of the Inspector General is investigating the issue of the dumped ballot guides.
“We do know that it happened,” he said. He was unable to provide any additional information prior to publication time. … Continue reading »