SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Ballots that were found discarded on a highway in San Jose have been examined, and most will be included in the official results of the recent election, according to a press release from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.
On Monday the United States Postal Service was able to recover 36 ballots from the area on Highway 17 before turning them over to the ROV. Thirty-one of the 36 ballots could be verified and have been approved to be counted. Four of the ballots had open envelopes, and one ballot had a signature that didn’t match the voter’s signature on file, according to ROV.
California election law states that all ballots can be counted if they are postmarked or dated on or before Election Day or if the USPS can confirm that they were mailed by Election Day. The ROV says that the recovered ballots faced the same validation and signature verification processes as all ballots counted in the election. However, the ROV is not able to count ballots that have torn or opened envelopes due to the potential for ballot tampering.
The ROV will reach out directly to those voters whose ballots were impacted in this incident. The registrar, Shannon Bushey, says she is glad that the majority of the ballots could still be included in election results, “This was a very unfortunate incident. I appreciate the USPS for working with us to get us the ballots as quickly as possible on behalf of the voters,” she said.
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As for how the ballots ended up on side of the highway, it’s still a mystery. On Nov. 11, a member of the public reported that ballots had been found near Hwy 17 along with other mail and parcels. The ROV says it appears that the ballots had been returned by mail and went missing while in possession of the USPS.
The ROV contacted USPS to collect the ballots and mail and investigate the incident. The District Attorney’s Office is coordinating with USPS on the investigation.
At this time, there is not evidence that these ballots were removed from drop boxes or vote centers, according to the ROV’s statement. Designated election workers are responsible for collecting ballots from drop boxes and vote centers, and their process does not involve mixing ballots with non-election mail.
Voters in Santa Clara County are able to track their ballots online here in order to confirm that they were received and counted. Voters have until Dec. 6 to submit a verification statement if the signature on their submitted ballot envelope did not match what the ROV has on file.