California Republicans have been setting up illegal ballot drop boxes across the state.
California Republicans have been setting up fake "official" ballot drop boxes across the state, in violation of election law.
A regional field director for the state GOP posted a photo on social media last week of an unauthorized drop box for mail ballots, the Orange County Register reported on Sunday. The receptacle was labeled, "Official ballot drop off box." Similar boxes are reportedly also appearing at local Republican party offices, campaign headquarters, and other locations.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla told the Washington Post on Monday that these GOP drop boxes are illegal.
"Operating unofficial ballot drop boxes — especially those misrepresented as official drop boxes — is not just misleading to voters, it’s a violation of state law," he said, urging Californians to "only use official ballot drop boxes that have been deployed and secured by their county elections office."
In a memo to local election officials on Sunday, Padilla's office noted, "State law does not authorize the use of unauthorized, non-official vote-by-mail ballot drop boxes."
"County elections officials alone have the authority to designate the location, hours of operation, and number of drop boxes in the county, and have the responsibility for ensuring compliance with all applicable statutes and regulations that guarantee the security and chain of custody of vote-by-mail ballots deposited," the memo continued. It stated that a violation of these laws could result in a three-to-four year prison sentence.
The document also pointed out that state law establishes a series of security requirements for drop boxes, including secure fastening, video surveillance when possible, and locking. Allowing outside groups to establish unofficial boxes, it warned, could mean "confusion and a perceived lack of transparency."
The California Republicans' actions are especially surprising given that Trump has raised concerns about the security of even the official drop boxes, baselessly claiming they were dangerous and a way for his opponents to cheat.
In a debunked August tweet, Trump complained, "Some states use 'drop boxes' for the collection of Universal Mail-In Ballots. So who is going to 'collect' the Ballots, and what might be done to them prior to tabulation? A Rigged Election?"
"So now the Democrats are using Mail Drop Boxes, which are a voter security disaster. Among other things, they make it possible for a person to vote multiple times," he tweeted days later. "Also, who controls them, are they placed in Republican or Democrat areas? They are not Covid sanitized. A big fraud!" Twitter labeled that lie a violation of its rules on civic integrity.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
The California GOP said in a statement that concerns over the illegal ballot boxes were "overblown." In a tweet on Sunday, the group suggesting that the boxes amounted to nothing more than ballot harvesting — a totally different process governed by different state rules.
According to the California Secretary of State's Office, voters can find the locations of real drop off boxes online. State laws vary on drop boxes, but state and local elections officials typically post information about voting options on their websites.
Updated with a response from the California Republican Party.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.