Sacramento – California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla issued a cease and desist order for the California Republican Party last week. The order came as a result of efforts from the California GOP to create unofficial ballot boxes that Padilla has deemed illegal. Earlier this week, these ballot boxes were removed, but tension remains.
What went down?
Padilla intervened with Californian Republicans’ efforts because he said the ballots distributed to these boxes are illegal. In California, ballot harvesting is a legal practice that involves someone collecting another’s ballot and sending it to the state registrar’s office.
Ballot harvesting requires that both parties sign the ballot, as well as the collector to identify their relationship to the voter. In this case, Padilla said the ballots in these unofficial boxes were not signed by both parties, nor was the relationship between parties identified.
Democrats in California generally go door-to-door to collect ballots from supporters to return to county election offices, but many are said to not be doing that this year, due to the pandemic.
The ballot boxes were located in the counties of Fresno, Los Angeles, and Orange. They were positioned near churches, businesses, and county Republican headquarters. California’s Republican Party said there were boxes in additional counties but refused to identify them.
Additionally, there was a dispute on whether these ballot boxes were staffed. California requires ballot boxes to be regulated. By definition, ballot boxes are “[secure] receptacles established by a county or city and county elections official.” In fact, Padilla said these efforts don’t even count as ballot harvesting because the boxes were unmanned even though the state’s GOP officials pushed back saying that the boxes were supervised.
In response to the cease and desist, California’s Republican officials cited Assembly Bill 306, which prohibits “disqualifying a ballot solely because the person returning it did not provide on the identification envelope his or her name, relationship to the voter, or signature.” The party’s general counsel, Tom Hiltachk, said that the unofficial ballot boxes were a “mistake” caused by an “overzealous volunteer.” According to CBS, it took pressure from the media for California’s Republican Party to remove these ballot boxes.
California Democrats were concerned about public confusion over the legitimacy of ballot boxes. If ballots were distributed to these boxes, voters will be contacted about voting a second time.
Though tension remains between the two parties, will California come together as a state and condemn illegal balloting practices?
Thumbnail Credit: Joshua Yeager/Visalia Times Delta