California GOP accused of violating state law for operating unofficial ballot drop boxes in Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange counties

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FRESNO COUNTY, California (KSEE) – The California Republican Party is under fire for putting out unofficial ballot drop boxes in several counties across the state.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra sent the state and local chapters involved, cease and desist letters after the discovered the boxes over the weekend in Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange County.

In Fresno County, ballot boxes were up for about a week at various locations before being taken down Monday by the local GOP chapter after the cease and desist letter, according to Fresno County Republican Party President Fred Vanderhoof.

“Unofficial, unauthorized ballot drop boxes are not permitted by state law,” said Sec. Padilla during a Monday press conference.

State election officials are accusing the state’s Republican party of misleading voters and violating state election laws.

“There is nothing more precious or fundamental in a real democracy than the vote,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Anyone who tampers with the vote is tampering with free and fair elections. We will do all that’s necessary under law to protect Californians’ right to vote.”

Attorney General Becerra and Secretary Padilla said the unofficial drop boxes mislead voters and were misrepresented as being “official” and secure. They added, the drop boxes are in violation of California Elections Code Section 3025 which specifies that vote-by-mail ballot drop boxes are “secure receptacles” established by local elections officials and the boxes must adhere to state regulations for security.

“Use of these ballot drop boxes calls into question compliance with CA Elections Code 3017 and 3011, which allows voters to designate an individual to return their ballot. Any individual returning a ballot on behalf of a voter must provide their name, signature, and relation to the voter on the return envelope. Voters must know who specifically is returning their ballot.” said Sec. Padilla’s Office.

California Republican Party Communications Director Hector Barajas said the intent was to give voters more opportunities to cast their ballot. Although Fresno County’s local GOP chapter said they have taken down their ballot drop boxes, it’s unclear if others in the state will follow suit.

“We are not going to allow the Secretary of State or Attorney General to suppress the vote and reduce the options for people to be able to vote, and if they’ve got a problem with us ballot harvesting on a law they created in 2016 then we will see you in court,” said California Republican Party Communications Director Hector Barajas.

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