Placing or fraudulently advertising any unofficial ballot drop box could result in a felony that carries a two to four year sentence, Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office announced Sunday.
The state said it had been made aware of unauthorized ballot drop boxes throughout the state.
“State law does not authorize the use of unauthorized, non-official vote-by-mail ballot drop boxes,” Padilla’s office wrote Sunday.
The California GOP tweeted their defense, claiming that the boxes were legal under a 2016 law that allows voters to designate someone to turn in their ballot for them.
“That was so pre-2016.” The California GOP Tweeted Sunday. “Passage of AB 1921: ‘volunteers or campaign workers can collect completed ballots and drop them off en masse at polling places or election offices.'”
This practice is commonly called “ballot harvesting,” and was previously condemned by Republican leaders.
“If a congregation/business or other group provides the option to its parishioners/associates/ or colleagues to drop off their ballot in a safe location, with people they trust, rather than handing it over to a stranger who knocks on their door — what is wrong with that?” the California GOP also tweeted Sunday.
In past elections, California Democrats have also held “ballot parties,” where voters would fill out a mail-in ballot and leave them with a designated volunteer to turn in massive stacks of ballots at once.
But Padilla’s office said that the unofficial boxes placed by the GOP are illegal because the 2016 law requires a voter to designate a specific person to return the ballot.
The individual must be “a person to whom a voter entrusts their vote-by-mail ballot to return to the county elections official must include their signature on the return vote-by-mail envelope as a the person authorized to return the ballot,” Padilla’s office said Sunday.
The entrusted ballot handler is also required to provide their name and state their relationship to the voter.
The boxes, spotted mostly around Orange County, were also wrongly marked “official,” with some unattended. Padilla’s office states that unstaffed drop boxes must also have an opening slot that is “not large enough to allow ballots to be tampered with or removed.”
The California GOP did not immediately respond to Patch for comment.
Jordan Tygh, regional field director for the California GOP tweeted a photo of himself next to the unofficial ballot box that was fraudulently labeled “official.” Later, the tweet was deleted.
“Doing my part and voting early,” Tygh wrote in the now-deleted tweet. “DM me for convenient locations to drop your ballot off at!”
The tweet suggested that Democrats were “…only ok with ballot harvesting when it’s the Democrats ballot harvesting.”