BOSTON – Police have arrested a 39-year-old Boston man suspected of setting fire to an early voting ballot box in the city’s Back Bay neighborhood, according to officials and WFXT.
Authorities launched an investigation early Sunday after someone set fire to a ballot box near 700 Boylston Street in Copley Square. After firefighters put out the blaze, officials found that 35 of the 122 ballots inside had been damaged to the point of illegibility, WFXT reported.
In a joint statement, Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin called the incident “a disgrace to democracy, a disrespect to the voters fulfilling their civic duty, and a crime.”
“Our first and foremost priority is maintaining the integrity of our elections process and ensuring transparency and trust with our voters, and any effort to undermine or tamper with that process must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the statement said.
“We ask voters not to be intimidated by this bad act, and remain committed to making their voices heard in this and every election.”
Late on Sunday night, officers patrolling the area near Copley Square spotted a man who appeared to match the description of the person who set fire to the ballot box, police said. Officers learned the man was wanted on an active warrant out of Ipswich District Court for receiving stolen property and took him into custody, authorities said.
Fire investigators determined the man, identified as Worldy Armand, was the suspect in Sunday morning’s fire. He faces one count of willful and malicious burning connected to the incident, WFXT reported.
Officials are asking people who dropped their ballots off at the box between 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday to reach out to the Boston Elections Department, according to WFXT. The news station reported that people who were impacted by Sunday morning’s fire will be mailed replacement ballots which can be cast by mail or in person by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
In a statement posted Sunday on social media, officials with the Boston Election Department noted that all ballot drop boxes in the city are under 24-hour surveillance and emptied daily.