In California, Republican Officials Are Setting Up Fake Drop Boxes For Ballots
According to The Orange County Register, the California secretary of state has received reports of potentially unauthorized ballot drop boxes popping up in Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange counties.
- Reports indicate the drop boxes, which likely would run afoul of state election law, have been placed at local political party offices, candidate headquarters and churches.
- The Register highlighted a social media post by Jordan Tygh, a regional field director for the California Republican Party, which shows Tygh posing next to a box labeled “Official ballot drop off box.” Tygh is holding a mail-in ballot in the photo and he encourages others to contact him for “convenient locations” to drop off their own ballots, according to the report.
- The office of Secretary of State Alex Padilla reportedly is investigating the matter.
Only county elections officials can oversee ballot drop boxes, choosing the number, location, hours of operation and other details. County registrars are charged with making sure every box follows strict state guidelines for security, including making sure they can’t be tampered with and tracing the chain of custody of all ballots.
“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,” Padilla said, with a felony conviction carrying a prison sentence of two to four years.
- On Saturday, reports surfaced of a similar drop box at the Freedom’s Way Baptist Church in Castaic, which also was labeled as “official.”
- The church said on social media that the box was “approved and brought by the GOP.”
- The post also indicated that “church officials don’t have a key to the box and that GOP officials pick up the ballots,” The Register reported.
The California Republican Party did not respond to requests for comment about the boxes by deadline. But they’ve been defending the practice in replies on Twitter, alleging the process was made legal under a 2016 law that allows California voters to designate a person to return their ballot for them. The GOP calls the practice “ballot harvesting” and blames it for losses to the Democrats in OC and other places in 2018.
But state officials clarified that using an unauthorized vote-by-mail drop box would not meet the requirements of the 2016 law. No designated “person” would be signing for the ballots as required by state law.