In a photo posted to social media last week, a young man wearing a mask with Orange County congressional candidate Michelle Steel’s name on it is holding a mail ballot and giving a thumbs up next to a box about the size of a file cabinet labeled “Official ballot drop off box.”
The post, from Jordan Tygh, a regional field director for the California Republican Party, encouraged people to message him for “convenient locations” to drop their own ballots.
The problem is the drop box in the photo is not official – and it could be against the law.
The California Secretary of State has received reports in recent days about possible unauthorized ballot drop boxes in Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange counties, agency spokesman Sam Mahood said Sunday evening. Reports place such boxes at local political party offices, candidate headquarters and churches.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla said his office is coordinating with local elections officials to look into the reports.
Only county elections officials can oversee ballot drop boxes, choosing the number, location, hours of operation and other details. County registrars are charged with making sure every box follows strict state guidelines for security, including making sure they can’t be tampered with and tracing the chain of custody of all ballots.
“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,” Padilla said, with a felony conviction carrying a prison sentence of two to four years.
Reports came out Saturday night about a metal box in front of Freedom’s Way Baptist Church in Castaic that had a sign matching the one on the Orange County box. The church posted on social media that the box was “approved and brought by the GOP.” The post said church officials don’t have a key to the box and that GOP officials picks up the ballots. A pastor for the church didn’t respond to a request for comment.
On its website, the Fresno County Republican Party also shared a list of “secure” ballot collection locations. None are official county drop box sites, with the local GOP instead listing its own headquarters, multiple gun shops and other local businesses.
I voted for the first time, early and via drop box.
It couldn't have been smoother. My ballot came weeks ago. I finally got down to filling it out on a Saturday. There was a list of drop box locations inside the envelope, with the nearest one at the local high school.
So I drove there last Saturday. There were three other cars dropping off ballots. The ballot box is huge, maybe six feet tall, white, with cameras on it, I think. It had all sorts of warnings about how tampering is a federal offense. I assume the school's cameras would also record any shenanigans -- after all, it is a high school.
So I slipped my ballot into the slot and drove off.
Good luck, Joe. I've done my job.
Posts: 19071 | Location: A cluttered house in Metro D.C. | Registered: 20 April 2005