Virginia election officials were begging for the public’s help Monday to try to figure out if any ballots had been stolen when six mailboxes at post offices were cracked over the weekend.
Post offices in Henrico County, Chesterfield County and Richmond were all struck some time between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning, the Department of Elections said. The department said anyone who dropped off a ballot at the six locations should call the U.S. Postal Service hotline to report it.
“Neither the department nor USPS has any information about whether any election mail was contained in the boxes,” elections officials said in a statement.
The mailbox thefts come as Virginia embarks on an expanded vote-by-mail operation this year and could fuel worries over the process.
“So it begins,” wrote J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, on Twitter. “Vote in PERSON if you want your vote to count.
”A record number of people across the country are expected to vote by mail this year, though some advocates worry that the number will overwhelm elections officials who are used to dealing with most votes being cast in person on Election Day.
President Trump has been campaigning against mail-in balloting, saying that it is a recipe for fraud in the election.
The Trump team has filed lawsuits against state or county officials in at least six states that are easing their rules for mail-in and absentee ballots for the November elections. They have sued North Carolina, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania. The Trump team also sued some Iowa counties.
Some states and localities have deployed special ballot drop lock-boxes for those using mailed ballots. Virginia has left decisions about how many drop-boxes to deploy up to localities.
Richmond has three boxes at city service centers. Henrico County lists two locations, and Chesterfield County lists four locations, which serve as both in-person early-voting locations and ballot drop-off spots.
The six post offices that saw their outdoor mailboxes cracked were at 4990 Sadler Place, 2000 Starling Drive and 2100 E. Parham Road in Henrico; 7510 Lady Blair Lane and 1201 Sycamore Square Drive in Chesterfield; and 805 Glenburnie Road in Richmond.