Elections officials investigate reports of missing ballots

Ballot box theft rumors in Richmond unfounded, officials say
Photo credit: Mayor Tom Butt

Elections officials are investigating reports of missing ballots that voters say they deposited into a Richmond City Hall drop box on Oct. 12.

Dozens of voters reported not receiving confirmation that their ballot was received by the County Elections Division after they deposited their ballot into the Richmond City Hall drop box on that day. The claims were also made on the social media platform NextDoor.

“The reports are limited to this site and date,” officials said.

The claims prompted an investigation by the Elections Division. Following an inspection of the ballot box, where ballots are retrieved by a two-person County team daily, the Elections Division said it has no reason to believe that the box has been tampered with.

During the investigation, County officials were able to confirm receipt of many of the ballots deposited into that box on Oct. 12, “but not all of them,” officials said.

“We have conducted an internal investigation and review of documents and processes and have not identified a cause for the complaints,” the Elections Division said. “We will continue to investigate throughout the election and canvass period.”

The County said it has tracked comments on Nextdoor and has proactively reached out to voters to advise them of their options for casting their ballots.

“We have re-issued ballots to many of the voters and advised others on the in-person voting options in their area,” Elections officials said.

The Richmond City Clerk’s Office first heard the claims of possible ballot box tampering when Mayor Tom Butt brought it up during Tuesday’s council meeting. The mayor said he received an email from someone claiming that ballots had been stolen and asked City Clerk Pamela Christian to respond.

Christian said she contacted the County and learned County officials were already aware of the claims and had already inspected the boxes.

The Elections Office encourages voters wanting to verify receipt of their ballot to use the “Track My Vote by Mail” feature at www.cocovote.us or call the Elections Office at (925) 335-7800.

“These concerns and reports are not widespread,” officials said. “These reports are limited to dozens of voters using one box on one date. Nearly 150,000 ballots have been securely returned from ballot drop boxes from across the County so far.”