Reports of unauthorized ballot drop boxes scattered throughout Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange County are being investigated by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla along with local election officials.
“Operating unofficial ballot drop boxes — especially those misrepresented as official drop boxes — is not just misleading to voters, it’s a violation of state law,” Secretary Padilla said in an interview with the OC Register, explaining that a felony conviction could range from two to four years.
County election officials are tasked with overseeing ballot drop boxes, choosing their number, location and hours of operation. The boxes must follow stringent state guidelines for security to prevent tampering with ballots and tracing voters.
According to Jackie Wu, the community outreach manager of the Orange County Registrar of Voters, official ballot drop boxes “weigh more than 1,000 pounds, are all outside, made of military grade metal, and are picked up daily by Registrar of Voters staff.”
While the Fresno County Republican Party shared a list of “secure” ballot collection locations on its website, none are official drop box sites.
A cease and desist order was sent by Padilla and the Department of Justice to the California Republican Party to remove unofficial ballot drop boxes. However, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office has received reports that some GOP officials refuse to remove the unofficial boxes.
In an interview with CNN, California Republican Party spokesman Hector Barajas described these boxes as an opportunity for “friends, family and patients to drop off their ballot with someone they know and trust.”
However, the lack of requirements for these unofficial drop boxes is concerning to state officials, who said that no designated person would be signing for ballots cast in these boxes as required by state law.
In an interview with the OC Register on Oct.11, Registrar of Voters for Orange County Neal Kelley said that hundreds had contacted him about a potentially unauthorized drop box in the county. He relayed the information to Padilla’s office and to Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, who has opened a separate investigation into the matter.
Unauthorized ballot drop boxes can be reported by calling the Registrar of Voters’ office at 714-567-7600.
Alessandra Arif is a 2020-2021 City News Co-Editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.