Trump Urges CA GOP To Keep Using DIY Ballot Boxes Despite Prosecution Threat From State

TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump holds a Make America Great Again rally as he campaigns at Orlando Sanford International Airport in Sanford, Florida, October 12, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOE... TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump holds a Make America Great Again rally as he campaigns at Orlando Sanford International Airport in Sanford, Florida, October 12, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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October 14, 2020 11:18 a.m.

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!” 

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.

Republicans, on the other hand, have acted to limit the availability of such drop boxes in several states, including Texas, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

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: 

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. 

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