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Fake Ballot Drop Boxes Have Popped Up In Southern California And Election Officials Aren't Pleased

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The Orange County District Attorney is investigating unofficial ballot drop boxes set up at churches, political party offices and retail locations. The boxes, which also popped up in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, are labeled to resemble sanctioned ballot containers, and some public officials have shared their locations, encouraging supporters to use them to cast their votes.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla sent a memo on Sunday to all county registrars statewide clarifying that fake drop boxes are illegal.

“In short, providing unauthorized, non-official vote-by-mail ballot drop boxes is prohibited by state law,” Padilla said. The guidance adds that a violation of the state’s election code carries a penalty of up to four years in prison.

Official ballot drop boxes are overseen by county elections officials and include security measures such as tamper-evident seals. While “ballot collection” or “ballot harvesting” is legal in California, it requires a person to sign over their ballot to an individual, who pledges to turn it in to election officials within 72 hours.

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California GOP spokesman Hector Barajas shared a statement Monday from the state Republican Party downplaying the drop box controversy. It reads, in part:

Democrats are now upset because organizations, individuals and groups are offering an opportunity for their friends, family, and patrons to drop off their ballot with someone they know and trust. 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 election offices.

Barajas’ emailed statement also cites part of AB 306, the law that allows ballot collection by third parties, which says ballots cannot be disqualified solely because the person turning them in doesn’t identify themselves or sign the voter’s return envelope.


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