Fake "official" drop boxes set up by California GOP may be in "violation of state law": official
A woman puts her ballot in the box during early voting. Getty Images / Mark Ralston
The California Republican Party is operating unofficial ballot boxes which, according to Secretary of State Alex Padilla, "violated the law" on Sunday.
Jordan Tygh, a regional field director for the California Republican Party, promoted an "official ballot box" on Twitter and urged followers to send him a message last week about "appropriate places" to cast their ballots, The Orange reported County Register first time. One voter reported that an "official ballot box" was "approved and purchased by the GOP" before it was removed after district officials warned on social media that it was not an official postal ballot box and was inconsistent with the [state ] Dropboxing regulations, "says KCAL.
The California GOP placed the boxes in front of churches, gyms and gun stores across southern California, according to the Washington Post. A chapter of the California State Republican Party has set up its own drop-off points, repeating President Donald Trump's baseless claims about the "safety" of postal voting despite repeated demonstrations that they are safe and secure.
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"CONSERVATIVE VOTER ALERT!" The Fresno GOP said as they announced a list of unofficial locations for ballots to be cast. "President Trump is very concerned about the lack of security in postal voting. Don't run the risk of your vote not being counted. If your ballot is in the mail, mark your ballot in full and address it as soon as possible one of the safe locations listed below. Make sure your vote counts! "
Padilla, a Democrat, said Sunday it was illegal to run unofficial ballot boxes.
"The operation of unofficial ballot boxes - especially those that are misrepresented as official ballot boxes - is not only misleading for voters, but also violates state law," he told the Post. "My office is coordinating with local officials to answer the multiple reports of unauthorized ballot boxes. Californians should only use official ballot boxes that have been installed and secured by their county polling station."
The OK Register reported that those who run the unofficial Dropboxing could face crimes that range from up to two to four years in prison.
Orange County voter registrar Neal Kelley told the point of sale that he had received hundreds of complaints about the Dropboxes.
"What we did was deal with notifying the state and the foreign minister issued instructions this afternoon that it is illegal and you cannot do that," he said. "It would be like installing a mailbox on the corner - the post office is the one that installs mailboxes."
The Republican Party defended the Dropboxes on Twitter.
"If a community / company or other group offers its community members / co-workers / or co-workers the opportunity to cast their ballot in a safe place with trusted people instead of handing it over to a stranger knocking on their door - what? wrong? ”A spokesman for the California GOP wrote on Twitter.
The National Republican Party also defended the drop boxes, arguing that they were no different than "election parties" held by State Democrats, where attendees could fill out postal ballot papers and have them dropped off en masse by party volunteers.
"This practice has been in place since 2016 - not sure why people are suddenly surprised," argued the California GOP, referring to a law approved by state lawmakers that allows "ballot harvesting".
Padilla said in a letter to election officials on Sunday that the unofficial drop boxes are not legal under the 2016 law as voters must designate a specific "person" to submit their ballot. He said that the drop boxes also don't meet the security requirements that are required for official drop boxes.
"Voters are in control of how to return their ballot and they have several safe options for doing so," Padilla said. "Ballot papers can be returned by mail, anywhere for in-person voting, or to an official secure Dropbox. Never give your ballot to someone you don't trust."
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Campaign experts criticized the potentially illegal ploy amid concerns about postal voting, not least due to the president's active attempts to cast doubt on the election results.
"This is far less-than-ideal with an election far less than ideal, when we are desperately trying to tell people they can trust the voting systems. We tell people if you don't trust the post and use it then an official Dropbox ballot, "Loyola law professor Jessica Levinson told KCAL. "This is not good for people's confidence in our elections."
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