A Berkeley, California, man recently discovered nearly 100 California voter pamphlets discarded in a recycling bin. That man, Scott Wheeler, says that he was wandering through his neighborhood collecting egg cartons when he spotted the almost 100 California voter pamphlets sitting on top of a recycling bin, waiting to be destroyed. Concerned, Wheeler told the local media that he grabbed the stack of voter pamphlets, took them home, and began making some phone calls.
As KTVU 2 reports, after finding the California voter pamphlets, the concerned citizens called police, the U.S. Postal Inspector, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, and the local media to tell them about his troubling find.
“It’s really serious. This is one of the most important elections in our lifetime. I want to know if this goes deeper.”
According to the county voter registrar, whatever happened to cause the California voter pamphlets (which contain voter information including information about ballot measures and can be seen in PDF form here) to be thrown into a random recycling bin rather than being delivered was an “isolated incident,” adding that the problem had been rectified with the discovery of the California voter pamphlets.
“As soon as they found those pamphlets they were immediately delivered to our voters so they’ve received their materials and they’re able to vote.”
According to Scott Wheeler, the concerned California citizen that found and reported the discarded voter pamphlets, it’s not that simple. In fact, Mr. Wheeler says that it might just be the tip of the iceberg. Just a week before he found the California voter pamphlets, Scott Wheeler decided to check on his own voter registration status. To his shock and anger, he claims to have found that his voter registration has been deactivated — even though he says he has been a permanent California “mail-in voter” for many years now.
According to Mr. Wheeler, California election officials stripped him of his registered voter status due to an issue with the mail. Apparently, he was sent a voter card and it ended up being returned to the state as “undeliverable.” As such, he was removed from the California list of registered voters.
According to the U.S. Postal Service, both the instance of the California voter pamphlets that were found in a Berkeley recycling bin and the case of Scott Wheeler’s undeliverable voter registration card are currently being investigated by the agency. The working theory is that, in the case of the pamphlets at least, the issue was an individual postal worker not doing their job.
However, that’s not nearly enough for Mr. Wheeler, and it’s not enough for the federal investigators who are now looking into the matter, reports BerkeleySide. As the local publication reports, many local residents are incredibly concerned about their voter registration status after hearing the news that nearly 100 California voter pamphlets were found in a recycling bin mere days before the general election.
“”It’s clear that these things had never been read. And the bindings prove that.”
In fact, one of Wheeler’s neighbors spoke to the local media about problems she’s had with her voter registration this election cycle.
“I also have a permanent absentee ballot. I’ve voted in every election. We have lived in the same place for 30+ years. I was also disenrolled and would not have even known to check if I would have seen this. I cannot believe these postcards were returned to the post office. I have a secure mailbox and there is no reason why I would not have received the mail.”
USPS Worker BRAGS About Destroying Absentee Ballots https://t.co/rvshjOjpgX— Constance Queen (@ConstanceQueen8) October 18, 2016
In all, Mr. Wheeler found a total of 96 California voter pamphlets; according to him, they were all to be delivered to Berkeley addresses. He turned the stack of voter pamphlets over to two representatives for USPS after making multiple calls to report the problem. Wheeler reports that when he reported his concerns about the California voter pamphlets to the U.S. Postal Service, he was advised that the booklets had become “evidence,” and as such he was not to turn them over to anyone expect Postal Service officials.
Even so, he alleges that a rep from the Registrar of Voters office came to his door to try to collect the discarded California voter pamphlets. He, however, refused to hand them over and turned the staffer away.
“I’m told this is now evidence, not just undelivered materials. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
Despite concerns from Berkeley locals, the USPS is still calling the situation with the California voter pamphlets an “isolated incident.” Reportedly, an agent by the name of Glenn San Jose of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (Pacific Area Field Office) recently made contact with local media in the Berkeley area and attempted to reassure inquisitive reporters and concerned voters alike that the California voter pamphlet dump was “unfortunate” but “isolated.”
Even so, the USPS Inspector General’s Office is still conducting an intensive federal probe into whether or not the California voter pamphlets found in a Berkeley recycling bin could be part of a larger issue with mail tampering or even voter fraud.
[Featured Image by Keith Bell/Shutterstock]