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Ballot in plastic baggie causes scare at Orange County elections office

Officials say there’s no threat, hazard

This May 26, 2020 file photo shows an Official Democratic General Primary mail-in ballot and secrecy envelope, for the Pennsylvania primary in Pittsburgh. Philadelphia's top elections official is warning of electoral chaos in the presidential battleground state if lawmakers there do not remove a provision in Pennsylvania law that, under a days-old court decision, requires counties to throw out mail-in ballots returned without secrecy envelopes. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar/File)
This May 26, 2020 file photo shows an Official Democratic General Primary mail-in ballot and secrecy envelope, for the Pennsylvania primary in Pittsburgh. Philadelphia's top elections official is warning of electoral chaos in the presidential battleground state if lawmakers there do not remove a provision in Pennsylvania law that, under a days-old court decision, requires counties to throw out mail-in ballots returned without secrecy envelopes. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar/File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – A ballot in a plastic Ziploc-style baggie caused a lockdown and evacuation at the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office Thursday afternoon, according to authorities.

The office released a statement Thursday evening saying that an employee who was processing vote-by-mail ballots reported that one enveloped seemed suspicious, so the deputy stationed at the office made the decision to evacuate the building out of an abundance of caution.

The Orlando Fire Department responded to investigate and discovered that the ballot inside the envelope had been placed inside a sandwich baggie, which made the envelope difficult to open.

“Early voting was not affected by the incident, and no vote-by-mail ballots were damaged. The ballot which was in the zip-sealed bag will be counted,” the statement read. “We are grateful for the swift response of the Orlando police and fire departments to ensure the safety of our staff and voters.”

The Orlando Police Department first tweeted about the “suspicious package” incident on Kaley Avenue around 3:20 p.m., warning motorists to avoid the area as they investigated. They said the situation was resolved minutes later.

There is no threat or hazard in the area, according to firefighters.