A photo of an entrance to a building. Next to the doorway is a yellow, blue and white L.A. County ballot box.
An official ballot box located outside a branch of the the Long Beach Public Library. Source: Long Beach City Clerk.

California GOP Refuses to Remove Unofficial Ballot Boxes

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California’s Republican Party has taken credit for installing the unofficial ballot collection boxes that have recently appeared across Southern California. The party says they have no plans to remove them, despite a memo from the secretary of state challenging their legality and, more recently, a cease-and-desist order from the state attorney general.

The unofficial ballot boxes began appearing across L.A., Fresno and Orange counties last week, according to the Orange County Register and CBS Los Angeles. On Oct. 9, a regional field director for the California Republican Party named Jordan Tygh uploaded a photo of himself to Twitter posing with an unauthorized ballot box. In his caption, he encouraged people to message him “for convenient locations” to drop off mail-in ballots.

A screenshot of a Tweet that includes an image of a man posing next to an unofficial ballot box. The tweet reads, "Doing my part and voting early. This is by far the most important congressional election I've ever voted in. I'm so proud to have cast my vote for @MichelleSteelCA. DM me for convenient locations to drop your ballot off at! #CA48 #StandWithSteel #LeadRight" and was posted by @JordanTygh.
Image source: Vice.

The narrow, gray metal containers look starkly different from L.A. County’s official ballot collection boxes — typically wide, oversized bins marked with bright yellow and blue sides, multilingual instructions and the Los Angeles city seal.

Instead, the unauthorized ballot boxes are marked with a single piece of laminated paper with three lines of text — “OFFICIAL BALLOT DROP OFF BOX,” “NO POSTAGE NECESSARY,” “TAMPERING WITH THIS BALLOT BOX IS A FELONY” — alongside a reference to a California elections code and clipart of stars and American flags.

In response, Secretary of State Alex Padilla issued a memo Sunday denouncing the boxes as illegal, and on Monday tweeted about alternative options for turning in ballots.

On Monday, state GOP spokesperson Hector Barajas said the party owns the boxes and has no plans to remove them prematurely. Barajas pointed to a state law that he says makes the unofficial ballot boxes legal.

The California state elections code allows for anyone to entrust their marked, signed and sealed mail-in ballot to another person to turn in on their behalf.

Later that same day, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra ordered the Republican Party to remove the unauthorized boxes via a cease and desist letter — but the party plans to ignore the order as well, according to BuzzFeed News reporter Salvador Hernandez.

The cease-and-desist letter received by the Fresno County Republican Party states that only county election officials are authorized to decide the “number, locations, and hours of” ballot boxes and that the state elections code requires individuals entrusted with turning in a ballot on another’s behalf to “provide their name, signature and relationship to the voter.”

For a list of authorized ballot drop-off boxes, visit the website of the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, the official agency in charge of facilitated elections.

Los Angeleno