California election officials ordered Republicans to remove illegal ballot drop boxes

Top election officials in California are scrambling to find out how many illegal ballot drop boxes are put in place by Republican staffers in three counties across the state over the weekend, as local law enforcement officials continue to search for outstanding witnesses and potential suspects. Meanwhile, the state’s Republican Party has indicated that it will not comply with an official order to remove the boxes, and may add more.

On Monday, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said that his office, in conjunction with the state Department of Justice, issued a ceasefire order to the California GOP to remove an illegal ballot drop box that appeared in Los Angeles County, Orange County. And Fresno County.

Padilla said notice was also sent to Republican parties in all three counties for questioning and by Thursday they were given to comply with the order to remove all drop boxes.

The informal ballot drop box appeared in front of the Baptist Church in Castac, California. It has been removed.

CBS KCAL Los Angeles

“If they refuse to comply, of course we will entertain all our legal options,” Padilla said at a virtual press conference with State Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Last Thursday, a regional area director with the California Republican Party in Orange County tweeted a picture of himself with a vote-by-mail ballot, standing next to a black cabinet with a signature on a tape that wrote Was “Official Ballot Drop Box.” Voter Jordan Tyag encouraged voters to message him to drop his ballots for “convenient places”.

Republicans say this is just ballot harvesting – a practice that allows volunteers, organizations, or campaign workers to collect the full ballot and leave it at county election offices.

“Democrats are very angry,” said California GOP spokesman Hector Barajas. He said state laws and regulations do not indicate whether private organizations’ drop boxes are allowed.

Padilla said some of the boxes in the photos his office received over the weekend were labeled as “official”, although they were not kept by county election officials in those areas. (California voters can find the location of the official ballot drop box here.)

One of many choices among California voters is to return their mail-in ballot, which they choose to someone who is confident of dropping the entire ballot at the county election office. In 2016, the law was expanded to return a ballot, in addition to volunteers, campaign operators and private organizations, to close family members.

The voter must be signed by both the voter and the person collecting it and leave it at the local election office within 72 hours. Operators may be paid hourly to collect ballots in California, but they may not be paid for the number of ballots they collect.

“In California, where you can go from house to house with hooliganism and criminal histories and get ballots from voters, Democrats are now upset because organizations, individuals and groups provide an opportunity for their friends, family and mentors To leave their ballot to someone they know and believe, “said Barajas.” If we wanted to use the Santa bag, we could. A closed heavy box seems very safe, ”he said.

According to the Sacramento Bee, the Fresno County Republican website directed that they read, “Don’t take the chance that your vote will be counted. Once your ballot arrives in the mail, mark your ballot in full and Then take him in. As soon as possible, in one of the safe places listed below. “Listed locations included gun shops, a gas station, and county Republican headquarters. Now, the link to the illegal ballot box collection locations is vacant, and the Sacramento Bee reported that the Fresno County Republicans will remove ballots by Thursday.

Republican “wrong” and “misrepresentation” boxes cause an issue, Padilla said, because voters are confident they are turning in their ballots for election officials. He said voters “don’t know who it is they are handing over their ballot.”

The Secretary of State’s office is still investigating how many of these boxes appeared over the weekend and how many voters used them. Padilla said that all eligible ballots that arrive at county election offices, “appropriate measures that are taken to ensure the integrity of that vote” will be processed and counted.

The state Republican Party did not immediately respond when asked if it would abide by the cease-fire order by Thursday’s deadline, but a spokesman for the state party, Baraj, later told CBS Sacramento that operations would continue – “by word. With “official” ballots removed.

“We are going to continue our voting harvesting programs,” Barrage said. Asked by CBS Sacramento that the Republican Party labeled their private ballot drop box “official”, they said they would “consider that if we put the ballot outside here, we can put it on the street in the corner” . ” But these are boxes that are inside businesses. ”

Barajas said the California Republican Party would remove the word “official”, but would not remove the boxes themselves. He said they could add more boxes to additional locations, including gun shops and churches across the state.

“Show us within the law, where we should stop,” Baraz told CBS Sacramento. “Tell us within the law, where we are breaking the law.” Regarding Padila’s threat that if legal action is not taken, Baraj said: “We will see you in court.”

In Orange County, home to the 48th Congressional District, a competitive race is taking shape between Democratic incumbent Harley Ruda and Republican Michelle Steele. The county’s Registrar of Voters Neil Kelly told CBS News that at least six boxes were reported over the weekend, and he believed all had been removed by Monday afternoon.

Kerley said the “frustrating part” is not knowing how many ballots are in illegal boxes in Orange County. “If I don’t know about it, I’d like to contact those voters,” Kelly said.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office said it received “several unauthorized ballot boxes” reports over the weekend. A spokesman told CBS News that the boxes appeared in at least two cities in the county and that “we are searching for outstanding witnesses and possible suspects.”


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