California Election Officials Denounce State GOP's Fake Ballot Collection Boxes
A polling officer places a postal ballot paper in a voting box in a drive through at the Registrar of Voters in San Diego, California on November 5, 2018. (Photo: Mike Blake / Reuters)
Election officials in California said Sunday that the state's Republican Party broke the law by placing makeshift, unauthorized ballot boxes around the state and mistaking it for "official".
Following reports of the mysterious ballot boxes on Sunday, the California election chief released a statement saying, "The use of unauthorized, unofficial ballot boxes via email does not comply with state polling law."
On Monday morning, Orange County's Republican voter registrar released a statement reiterating that unofficial ballot boxes are illegal and requested voters to put ballot papers in ballot boxes bearing the official county seal.
The first unofficial boxes were discovered in Southern California, according to the Orange County Register and KCAL. At least one of the boxes disappeared after locals notified Los Angeles County election officials, and it is not clear how many, if any, ballot papers were deposited before the box was removed.
The California-based GOP previously promoted the unofficial collection boxes on social media and on a now-defunct website hosted by the party's Fresno County Chapter.
The state's GOP defended the boxes on Twitter after election officials condemned them Sunday and revealed how the party is undermining other legal voting activities.
“If a church / company or other group allows their community members / co-workers / colleagues to cast their ballot in a safe place with people they trust, rather than handing it over to a stranger knocking on their door - what? is that wrong? "The California GOP tweeted on Sunday.
The National Republican Congressional Committee tweeted a similar defense.
But the answer is pretty simple under California law: a box is not a person.
Voters are allowed by law to “designate a person to return the ballot to the election officer who issued the ballot”. Often, voters who do not make it to an official ballot box themselves choose a volunteer to cast their ballot for them. Earlier this year, California Republicans sued Governor Gavin Newsom (D) and other state officials for banning this practice, which was codified into law in 2016.
Many Americans are expected to vote from home this year due to the worsening coronavirus pandemic. Appointing a volunteer is an important way of doing this. But California Republicans argued that the pandemic was a reason to choose less from home, no more.
"If we can't see our mothers on Mother's Day, strangers shouldn't come to our homes to collect ballots," said Jessica Millan Patterson, leader of the California Republican Party, in April.
To be clear, the state of California allows designated volunteers to cast voters' ballots, but has not forbidden anyone from visiting their mothers on Mother's Day.
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