Worldy Armand charged with setting Boston ballot box on fire after arson attempt leads to 35 damaged ballots damaged of a 122 deposited.
Worldy Armand, a 39-year-old Boston resident, was taken into custody late Sunday, hours after he started a fire inside a drop box outside the Boston Public Library in the city’s Back Bay neighborhood of Copley Square, circa 4am that day, authorities said. The box contained more than 120 ballots WCVB reports.
An inventory of the damaged box Sunday morning revealed 122 deposited ballots with 35 damaged, of which as many as 10 couldn’t be counted. The remaining 87 ballots were still legible and able to be processed. The box had last been emptied around 2.30pm on Saturday.
Armand was arraigned on a charge of willful and malicious burning. A judge ordered a mental health evaluation for the defendant.
‘I do not believe that this individual is plotting against our democracy. I think that he is emotionally disturbed,’ said Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins.
‘…maintaining transparency and trust with voters.’
Armand was arrested after drug control unit officers on patrol saw a man who matched the description of the suspect authorities were looking for in the ballot box fire, police said. Police said he also had an active warrant for receiving stolen property in Ipswich.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh released a statement, thanking law enforcement officials for swiftly making an arrest.
‘From our election workers who are working hard to trace every legible ballot in that drop box, to our firefighters who quickly responded to the fire, and our police officers who launched an immediate investigation, voters can be assured that our first and foremost priority is maintaining the integrity of our elections process,’ the statement read. ‘We remain committed to making their voices heard in this and every election, and maintaining transparency and trust with voters.’
Massachusetts’ elections chief said he has directed local officials to boost security at drop boxes with guards and video surveillance, and to empty the boxes frequently.
Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said in an interview Monday that he is also advising communities to lock their ballot drop boxes on Saturday night.
‘We’re concerned that for that period of time, especially after dark, that they could be the object of pranksters or other individuals,’ Galvin said.
In a joint statement, Galvin and Mayor Walsh called it the incident a ‘disgrace to democracy, a disrespect to the voters fulfilling their civic duty, and a crime.’
Despite the extensive damage to the internal plastic lining, the drop box at Copley Square is still available for voters to deposit their ballots Galvin said, according to NBC Boston.
Boston’s 17 ballot drop boxes are under 24-hour surveillance and are emptied daily.
Early voting began last Saturday in Massachusetts, and more than 2 million residents have already cast their ballots in person or by mail.