California GOP Says It Will Not Comply With Order To Remove Unauthorized Ballot Boxes

NEWTON - AUGUST 23: A voter drops a ballot into the box for mail-in ballots outside of Newton City Hall in Newton, MA on Aug. 23, 2020, where there's a crowded field in the primary race for the fourth Congressional D... NEWTON - AUGUST 23: A voter drops a ballot into the box for mail-in ballots outside of Newton City Hall in Newton, MA on Aug. 23, 2020, where there's a crowded field in the primary race for the fourth Congressional Democratic nomination. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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October 15, 2020 9:07 a.m.

The California Republican Party said Wednesday it will not comply with the state’s cease-and-desist order over unofficial ballot drop boxes which have made their way into at least four counties across the state.

“Ballot harvesting program will continue,” California Republican Party spokesman Hector Barajas told CNN in a statement defending the boxes which have been found in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and Fresno.

In spite of the cease and desist order, Barajas said Wednesday that the party may expand the program.

“We’re going to continue this program,” Barajas told CNN affiliate KABC in an interview. “If you want to take us to court, then we’ll see you in court.”

The comments appeared to echo a message from Trump who tweeted a day earlier that his party should fight the order. 

“You mean only Democrats are allowed to do this? But haven’t the Dems been doing this for years? See you in court. Fight hard Republicans!” Trump tweeted Tuesday night after railing for months without evidence against what he has repeatedly called widespread “fraudulent” mail-in voting.

In a letter to the California Secretary of State on Wednesday attorneys for the state’s Republican Party said all of the ballot boxes dispatched by the party were indoors and staffed by volunteers or party officials. The letter also said that the unauthorized boxes were secure and not labeled “official.”

Images of the ballot boxes have shown that the unofficial boxes are labeled as “official,” but the state GOP contends in the letter that it had not authorized the term to be used and that the labels had been removed. 

“The California Republican Party did not promote, or authorize the promotion of, the secure boxes as ‘official mail drop boxes,'” the letter states. “When we learned that a sign using the word ‘official’ was used in some locations on Saturday, October, 10, 2020, we corrected that error immediately and within hours.”

A spokesperson for California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) told CNN that Padilla’s office reviewing the GOP response letter.

During a CNN interview on Monday, Padilla called the drop boxes “fake” telling CNN’s Chris Cuomo that the move was wrong regardless of which party was dispatching the unauthorized boxes.

“We don’t have the requirements or regulations for these fake drop boxes as you do for the official drop boxes,” Padilla said adding that voters should instead be directed to official drop boxes which meet all state requirements. 

Secure drop boxes that are state-sanctioned and monitored — have been widely promoted by voting rights advocates, including in California, where official boxes are widely accessible.

Outside of California, Republican officials have sung a different tune, moving to limit access to authorized drop boxes in states like Texas and Pennsylvania.  On Friday, a federal appeals court temporarily reinstated limits on the expansion of ballot drop boxes in Ohio, suggesting “the State cannot be faulted for these voters’ choice to not take advantage of the other avenues available to them to cast their ballot.”

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