President Donald Trump on Tuesday night urged Republicans in California to keep using home-brewed ballot drop boxes that state officials have said are illegal. Trump argued Democrats are doing the same — they aren’t — and that that alone was enough to justify the California GOP’s move.
“You mean only Democrats are allowed to do this?” the President tweeted. “But haven’t the Dems been doing this for years? See you in court. Fight hard Republicans!”
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! https://t.co/vaToeGB2ze
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2020
Legitimate drop boxes — state-sanctioned and monitored, secured to the ground and protected with bulky metal exteriors — have been widely promoted by voting advocates, including in California, where such official boxes are widespread.
In California, the situation is different. California’s attorney general and secretary of state said Monday that the DIY drop boxes there are not-up-to-par and illegal on multiple fronts.
For one thing, only elections officials can deploy drop boxes, which use heavy duty materials and are frequently emptied by government employees. At least one of the drop boxes boosted by Republicans, by contrast, is a cardboard box. Others resemble thin metal filing cabinets.
And while Republicans in the state have said the boxes are just another form of “ballot harvesting,” in which volunteers turn in mail-in ballots to election officials with voters’ authorization, the DIY drop boxes skip over key legal steps: California law requires volunteers to sign the ballot envelope and give their name and relationship to the voter as a form of verification.
State officials have ordered the state’s Republican party to stop using the unoffcial boxes and provide the information of voters who used them by Thursday. They added that “Both the Secretary of State’s Office and the Attorney General’s office are prepared to take action to enforce state law, should it become necessary.”
Trump’s argument is a complete reversal of his demonization of “ballot harvesting,” which he’s attacked in the past, including just a few hours before his tweet on the DIY drop boxes:
California hired a pure Sleepy Joe Democrat firm to count and “harvest” votes. No way Republicans get a fair shake. Lawyers, get started!!! @GOPLeader California is in big trouble. Vote Trump and watch the greatest comeback of them all!!! Also, New York and Illinois – go for it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2020
State Supreme Court in Pennsylvania just affirmed that Ballot harvesting remains illegal. We will be watching that the Democrats do not Ballot Harvest – a felony. In other words, the Republican Party won on the atrocious Ballot Harvesting Scam…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2020
The Democrats are demanding Mail-In Ballots because the enthusiasm meter for Slow Joe Biden is the lowest in recorded history, and they are concerned that very few people will turn out to vote. Instead, they will search & find people, then “harvest” & return Ballots. Not fair!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2020
GET RID OF BALLOT HARVESTING, IT IS RAMPANT WITH FRAUD. THE USA MUST HAVE VOTER I.D., THE ONLY WAY TO GET AN HONEST COUNT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2020
But at least the tweet is in line with his own voting practices: Trump used a “ballot harvester” himself this year, when an authorized agent delivered his ballot to him and returned it on his behalf to Florida elections officials.