Worldy Armand is the Boston man accused of setting a ballot drop box on fire days before the 2020 presidential election. Officers with the Boston Police Department arrested Armand hours later after noticing that he fit the description of the suspect, who had been recorded on a surveillance camera at the drop box.
The majority of the ballots that were in the drop box at the time were not seriously damaged, according to Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin. He told CBS Boston that between 5 and 10 of the ballots were destroyed and that his office was sending new ballots to those impacted. Massachusetts voters can check the status of mail-in ballots here.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Drop Box at the Boston Public Library on Boylston Street Was Set on Fire Early on October 25
The drop box that was lit on fire was located “in the area of” 700 Boylston Street, police said. A quick Google search shows this address is where the Boston Public Library Central Branch is located in the South End.
According to Boston Police, officers were called to the scene just after 4 a.m. on Sunday, October 25. The officers witnessed smoke coming from the voting drop box but they, along with firefighters, “were unable to determine if the fire was burning inside of the box.” The responders filled the drop box with water to put out the fire.
Police were able to identify a suspect because the incident had been recorded on a surveillance camera. A man was seen on video lighting material on fire and placing it inside the ballot box, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office explained in a news release. The images were distributed with the police department and shared on social media.
2. Police Identified Armand Hours Later & Realized There Was an Active Warrant Against Him for a Separate Case
Copley Square is located across the street from the Boston Public Library. Boston Police explained in a news release that around 10:50 p.m. on October 25, officers on patrol in that area noticed a man who matched the description from the drop box fire. They approached the man and identified him as Worldy Armand.
According to police, the officers realized there was already an active warrant for Armand’s arrest. He was accused of receiving stolen property as part of a separate case in Ipswich District Court in Newburyport, which is located about 40 miles north of Boston.
Armand was arrested and was charged with willful and malicious burning in Boston Municipal Court. According to the Suffolk County District Attorney, Judge Mark Hart Summerville ordered Armand to be held without bail. The office shared in a news release that Armand gave the address of a Boston homeless shelter when officials asked where he lived.
3. The District Attorney Described Armand as ‘Emotionally Disturbed’
The Suffolk County District Attorney does not believe Armand set out to disrupt the election process or undermine confidence in mail-in voting. DA Rachael Rollins explained in a news release that she believes Armand is “emotionally disturbed.”
Rollins added, “No matter the intent of Armand when he set fire to these ballots, his actions strike a nerve in our society at a time of nearly unprecedented political divisiveness. The destruction of ballots is simply unacceptable.”
A “dangerousness hearing” was scheduled for October 30 to determine whether Armand could be granted bail. This hearing was set after Armand refused to talk to a court clinician who was working to determine whether Armand was competent to stand trial. According to the district attorney’s office, Judge Summerville decided against sending Armand to a different facility for a mental health evaluation after the medical professional reported back.
The DA’s office also disclosed that Armand faces a separate arson charge in Malden District Court. Details of that case are unclear; a search of online court records does not bring up any results for Armand’s name.
4. The Massachusetts Secretary of State Has Ordered Increased Security at Drop Box Sites
The drop box that was set on fire was emptied just before 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 24, WHDH-TV reported. The Boston Election Department has encouraged anyone who used the drop box near Copley Square between 2:30 p.m. on October 24 and 4 a.m. on October 25 to check their ballot status. Voters can check their ballot status online here or they can call the department at 617-635-2211. Concerned voters can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin, there were approximately 122 ballots in the drop box at the time of the fire. WHDH-TV, citing Galvin, reported that 87 of the ballots were “legible and able to be processed.”
The remaining 35 ballots suffered damage, NBC Boston reported. Up to 10 of the ballots were destroyed and therefore uncountable. CBS Boston reported that anyone who dropped off their ballots at the Copley Square location during the identified times will be mailed a new ballot.
Galvin has ordered increased security at drop box locations, NBC Boston reported. He told the outlet in a prepared statement that the drop box fire was a “disgrace to democracy.” He added, “Our first and foremost priority is maintaining the integrity of our elections process and ensuring transparency and trust with our voters, and any effort to undermine or tamper with that process must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
5. A Ballot Drop Box Was Recently Burned in Los Angeles
The Boston case is not the first time a ballot drop box has been targeted. The FBI was asked to join the investigation after a drop box in Los Angeles was set on fire on October 18. The incident took place in Baldwin Park outside a public library, KABC-TV reported.
According to the Washington Post, a suspect lit a newspaper on fire and placed it inside the box. Firefighters had to use a saw to cut the drop box open and extinguish the flames.
Approximately 100 ballots were damaged. Firefighters delivered the ballots to the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office. According to CBS Los Angeles, impacted voters were issued replacement ballots.