A Santa Monica man has found multiple ballots for the 2020 election in public trash bins this week alongside what appeared to be other mail from nearby homes.
Osvaldo Jimenez found the first batch of ballots in an Alley between 20th and 21st in the Pico neighborhood around 4:30 p.m. and he found a second batch on Virginia Ave in a recycling bin in front of the nearby church later that night.
Jimenez said he was walking his dog that afternoon and when he went to throw pet waste into a nearby garbage can something caught his eye.
“There was a big bulk of mail and not just any mail but I noticed there were voting ballots,” he said. “And I started digging through the mail and saw there were a few bank statements a few EDD envelopes as well and there was also some other spam mail, like magazines and those political postcards that they send.”
He said at first he thought it was a prank of some kind but when he realized it was actual mail in the trash, he was confused. He said he’s seen the discussions around mail safety in the national press but didn’t expect to encounter the issue in Santa Monica.
Jimenez notified the Santa Monica Police Department and had a subsequent discussion with the USPS Inspection Service, the federal law enforcement and security department of the U.S. Postal Service.
SMPD Captain Saul Rodriguez said officers responded to the call but the Postal Service also responded and took custody of the mail. He said a postal worker redistributed the mail and that the USPS has jurisdiction over mail crimes.
Ricky Vida with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said the service is unable to comment on the matter at this time.
However, his discovery didn’t end there. Later that night, at about 10:30 p.m. he went into a different alley to dispose of delivery boxes from the day and found a second batch of mail, with ballots, in the recycling bin.
“I went to a recycling bin in front of the Jehova’s witness and their recycling center was on the sidewalk on Virginia Ave. so I threw my box in there and took my dog for a walk in the park but something inside of me told me to look inside because there was something else in there so I followed my gut feeling and I found a second batch of ballots in there.”
Jimenez said the discovery has reinforced his plans to vote in person.
“I definitely won’t be putting it in a drop box or by mail,” he said.