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Boston man charged with setting fire to ballot drop box

A Boston man has been charged after setting fire to a ballot box, damaging dozens of absentee ballots.

29-year-old Worldy Armand started a fire inside a ballot box outside the Boston Public Library on Sunday. Authorities took him into custody a few hours later, and he currently faces charges of willful and malicious burning. The ballot box contained over 120 ballots, according to The Associated Press.

Armand was apprehended by drug control officers who say he matched the description of the man seen setting the ballot box on fire. He also had an active warrant out for his arrest for receiving stolen property. The FBI is investigating the incident, the AP reports.

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William Galvin, Massachusetts’s election chief, has directed local officials to heighten security around ballot boxes with guards and surveillance cameras and to collect ballots more frequently.

The AP reports that in an interview Monday Galvin recommended locking ballot boxes on Halloween night, saying, “We’re concerned that for that period of time, especially after dark, that they could be the object of pranksters or other individuals.”

Of the 122 ballots that were in the box, 35 were damaged, but only five or 10 were too damaged to be counted, according to Galvin. Voters are able to track the status of their mail-in ballots online. Those who used this particular ballot box and are unable to confirm the status of their vote are encouraged to reach out to the Boston Elections Department to either receive a replacement ballot or decide if they want to recast their ballot in-person instead.

This incident happens one week after a ballot box in Baldwin Park, Calif. caught on fire. The cause of the fire is unknown, but it is being investigated as possible arson. Sixty to 100 ballots are believed to have been damaged in the fire.