California Attorney General Orders GOP to Remove Unauthorized Ballot Drop Boxes

The California Attorney General has ordered the state's GOP party to remove all unauthorized ballot drop boxes it placed. In an official cease and desist letter, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla ordered the California Republican Party to halt "the coordination, use and/or false or misleading promotion of unauthorized and non-official vote by mail drop boxes." The letter was issued to California GOP Chair Jessica Patterson, as well as Chairmen Fred Vanderhoof, Fred M. Whitaker, and Dr. Richard Sherman.

Padilla noted that his office "has received several complaints regarding" the unofficial ballot drop boxes, and firmly stated that the law prohibits them from being used. He also demanded the California GOP turn over any ballots already collected from the boxes. Additionally, Padilla ordered the group to provide his office the information of any citizens who already turned in their ballots to the unofficial boxes. These individuals will be contacted by the County Registrars of Voters, who will advise them of their options moving forward.

Concerns over the boxes first emerged on social media, with one person tweeting about them and suggesting that they be investigated. The Orange County Registrar, Neal Kelley, replied to the tweet, advising that the proper officials were doing just that. Padilla eventually issued a statement, questioning not only the validity of the boxes but their legality as well.

"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," he stated while speaking with The O.C. Register. In comments provided to Newsweek, Padilla added, "My office is coordinating with local officials to address the multiple reports of unauthorized ballot drop boxes." He then went on to say, "Californians should only use official ballot drop boxes that have been deployed and secured by their county elections office."

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Kelley spoke with Newsweek as well, saying, "Voters who want to return their ballot at a drop box, should only use official county drop boxes. Official ballot drop boxes are clearly recognizable, designed to meet state standards for security, and bear the official Orange County Elections logo.

He added, "One of my important roles as the chief election official for Orange County is to provide options for voters. It's important for groups, or individuals, to understand that attempting to post or install unofficial ballot drop boxes is prohibited. I reacted quickly to this issue and my office has passed along reports of social media posts of unofficial drop boxes to the Secretary of State and our local District Attorney."