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California tells state GOP to ‘cease and desist’ use of illegal drop boxes

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  • California’s top election and legal officials have told the state Republican Party to “cease and desist” its use of unofficial vote-by-mail drop boxes.
  • The California Republican Party has set up drop boxes at gas stations, fitness clubs, and gun shops.
  • “State law prohibits the use of unofficial drop boxes,” states a “cease and desist” letter sent Thursday by the office of California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Republicans are breaking state law and should immediately “cease and desist” their use of unauthorized, illegal dropboxes for mail-in ballots, California officials said in a letter to the state GOP on Monday.

On Sunday, several outlets reported that Republican officials had been setting up drop boxes at gas stations, fitness clubs, and gun shops. “President Trump is very concerned about the lack of security with mail-in ballots,” the Fresno County GOP stated in a “Conservative Voter Alert” that lists “secure locations” for depositing ballots.

On Twitter, a California Republican Party regional field director even went so far as to describe the unauthorized collection sites as “official,” as Business Insider reported.

But not only are the drop boxes unauthorized by the state, but they are also, in fact, illegal, the office of California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in an Oct. 12 letter to the California Republican Party and its chapters in Fresno, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties.

“Only county elections officials have the authority to determine the number, locations, and hours of vote-by-mail drop boxes,” states the letter, signed by Steve Reyes, chief counsel to Padilla, and Jonathan Wolff, chief assistant attorney general for the state. “If you are in possession or control of any voted vote-by-mail ballots received through these unauthorized, non-official drop boxes, we demand that you immediately return and surrender those voted vote-by-mail ballots to the appropriate county elections official.”

The California Republican Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement posted on Twitter, however, party spokesperson Hector Barajas rejected the criticism from state elections officials. “The Democrat anger is overblown when state law allows organizations, volunteers, or campaign workers to collect completed ballots and drop them off at polling places or elections offices,” he said.

California law does allow a vote-by-mail voter to “designate another person to return the ballot to the elections official who issued the ballot.” However, the voter must designate that person, and their relationship to them, on the ballot itself. The individual returning the ballot must also provide their signature.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in a statement, suggested further action could be taken if the Republican Party does not comply with the state’s demands.

“Anyone who tampers with the vote is tampering with free and fair elections,” he said. “We will do all that’s necessary under law to protect Californians’ right to vote.”

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