An NBC Bay Area producer found an automatic ballot-counting machine Wednesday afternoon along a sidewalk in the Tenderloin District.
He immediately called the election department to report the find and someone was sent out in person to gather the item.
The election commission member who came to get it said the box normally contains a memory chip that counts the votes. That was either missing or had been removed by a poll worker on Election Day, as is the normal practice.
They said they didn't think any mischief was related to the find, adding someone might have simply left it out by mistake. That sheriff's deputy also said that he didn't think the box was related in any way to a theft of ballots and a memory chip from a polling place Tueday.
Police arrested a 50-year-old poll worker they said stole dozens of ballots and a ballot reader chip from an Excelsior District polling station Tuesday night. He's been identified as Karl Bradfield Nicholas, of San Francisco.
Nicholas has been charged with one count of burglary and two counts of elections code violations, police spokeswoman Lt. Lyn Tomioka told Bay City News.
Police said another poll worker discovered that 75 ballots and a memory box from an automatic ballot-counting machine had been taken, right at the same time that Nicholas left.