More than a dozen undelivered ballots were found hidden in a field in Glendale, Arizona, and returned to the authorities just days before voters went to the polls on election day.
On Saturday, Glendale police returned the ballots to residents who were expecting them, according to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
In a Tuesday press release, Brnovich’s office said that the envelopes containing the ballots were still sealed when a person discovered them in the afternoon of October 30. According to Brnovich’s office and Glendale Police, a total of eighteen ballot papers were found in a field near Rovey Farms near 99th Avenue and Glendale Avenue, under stones and concrete, which according to Brnovich’s office and Glendale Police were allegedly stolen directly from mailboxes in a nearby neighborhood.
Tiffany Ngalula, the Glendale Police Public Affairs Officer, told Washington Newsday that the ballots had faded in the sun when Brayan Ruiz, an employee of Rovey Farms, found them. It is not known how long the ballots were in the field before Ruiz found them, Ngalula said.
Officers and agents from Brnovich’s office returned the ballots by hand to their designated recipients only three days before election day. Brnovich’s office said it was unclear what the motive behind the stolen ballots was.
“We thank Brayan Ruiz for doing the right thing by ensuring that we were able to hand over these ballots personally,” Ngalula told Washington Newsday. Ngalula described the incident as a “positive story” in which officials were “able to do our part” to ensure that those residents who missed their postal ballots received them.
In a video posted on the Glendale Police Department’s Facebook page, Ruiz explained how he came across the hidden ballots, and the officers who helped deliver the ballots to their intended recipients provided body-cam footage showing their interactions with the postal voters.
“I wondered where my ballot was. I never got it,” one voter told the officials. Another voter said that this was the first time she had registered for an election this year. Another resident said she had no problems receiving other mail, but noticed that her ballot had never arrived.
“I got everything else I needed, but I didn’t get my ballot,” said the voter.
All postal voters in Arizona must return their ballots by 7:00 p.m. local time on election day. According to the U.S. Election Project, more than 2.4 million voters returned their postal ballot papers by Monday, which is about 72 percent of the total postal ballot papers requested in the state for the 2020 elections. Postal voters who are curious about the location of their ballot can follow the progress of the election process by visiting the Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ website.
This report has been updated with additional information, background and comments by Tiffany Ngalula, Public Information Officer, Glendale Police Department.