Unofficial Ballot Boxes Are Popping Up In California

Published on October 13, 2020

Unofficial ballot drop boxes are popping up in several Southern California counties. The drop boxes look similar to the real thing. Some of them are even labeled “official.” Reports to state election officials started coming in when these boxes showed up in front of churches, gyms, and gun shops.

State Republicans Take Credit

The boxes belong the the California Republican Party. According to state GOP spokesman Hector Barajas, they have no plans to remove the boxes. The California GOP would not divulge how many boxes are out there, or where they are located. There are, however, various posts on social media informing voters of the boxes’ locations.

The leaders of the California Republican Party claim that the use of these boxes is simply ballot harvesting. Ballot harvesting is a practice that was legalized in California in 2016. It allows campaign workers to collect ballots and return them on behalf of voters. Proponents of the law wanted to increase voter turnout and make it easier for those with disabilities and those who can’t make it to the polls. It’s a controversial law, with opponents claiming ballot harvesting could lead to an uptick in voter fraud cases.

Election Officials Say No

While Republican leaders are unapologetic, state election officials say these boxes are illegal. Secretary of State Alex Padilla issued a memo denouncing the use of these unofficial ballot boxes.

“State law does not authorize the use of unauthorized, non-official vote-by-mail ballot
drop boxes. County elections officials alone have the authority to designate the location,
hours of operation, and number of drop boxes in the county, and have the responsibility
for ensuring compliance with all applicable statutes and regulations that guarantee the
security and chain of custody of vote-by-mail ballots deposited,” said the memo, “Moreover, the use of unauthorized, non-official vote-by-mail ballot drop boxes does not comply with state law governing ballot collection activities.”

Concerned citizens are reporting these ballot boxes in three Southern California counties—Los Angeles, Fresno, and Orange counties. All three of these counties are in the midst of competitive races for seats in the House of Representatives

Remember, if you are concerned about how to vote, it’s best to check with your county’s official election office before casting your vote.

Olivia Smith is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in San Francisco, she covers events, entertainment, fashion, and technology. She also serves as a Voices contributor at PopSugar.

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