Torrance police find more than 300 recall ballots in suspect's car, along with gun, drugs


Officers responding to a call Aug. 16 about a man who was passed out in a vehicle found more than 300 ballots for the upcoming gubernatorial recall election, a loaded gun, drugs and other illicit materials, Torrance police said Monday.

Officers were called about 10:45 p.m. to a 7-Eleven parking lot at 3735 Emerald St. for a report of a man passed out in a vehicle, said Sgt. Mark Ponegalek, a spokesman for the Torrance Police Department.

When officers searched the vehicle, they found a 9-millimeter handgun and stolen mail, including more than 300 ballots, Ponegalek said. In addition, the man had methamphetamine, Xanax pills, a scale, multiple California driver’s licenses and credit cards in other people’s names, police said.

Torrance police are working with other law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service and the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, to determine how the man got the ballots and what he planned to do with them, Ponegalek said.

Police are working with officials to ensure that all voters affected by the thefts get new ballots, he said. Ballots are mailed with unique barcodes assigned to each voter.

The suspect, whose name wasn’t released, was arrested on suspicion of “numerous weapons, narcotics and forgery charges,” police said.

The incident isn’t tied to additional ballot thefts, police said.