A North Berkeley resident discovered almost 100 voter guides in a Berkeley recycling bin last week that were still bound together and allegedly never delivered, prompting a federal investigation into the incident, Berkeleyside reported Tuesday.
Scott Wheeler, a registered voter for more than 45 years, was trying to find cartons for a friend’s egg farm in recycling bins when he noticed the voter guides at the northeast corner of Virginia and Walnut streets. The U.S. Postal Service, or USPS, is currently investigating the dumped voter guide incident, said Glenn San Jose, a deputy special agent in charge for the USPS Office of Inspector General’s Pacific Area Field Office, in an email.
“(The guides) were clearly untouched,” Wheeler said. “There were stacks and stacks of them and they were pristine; they were not wrinkled … in any way.”
Wheeler said he believes this incident was primarily a delivery issue rather than an issue of suppressing votes. He said that in a neighborhood communication app he uses, many people were complaining about poor mail delivery.
“I suspect that somebody didn’t want to do their job and rather then deliver them they just recycled them,” Wheeler said.
San Jose said the voter guides have been recovered and provided to USPS for delivery to their destinations. San Jose declined to comment further on the details of the case and explained that USPS is limited in the information it is allowed to disclose at this time on the ongoing investigation.
Mayoral candidate Ben Gould said although he is disappointed that several voters did not receive their guides, he believes the incident is merely a one-time issue.
“100 sample ballots … I … don’t think it will have an impact on the election overall,” Gould said. “It’s just making it more difficult for those voters in getting the information they want.”