California's GOP is being accused of setting up fake official voting ballot drop-off boxes, which could be illegal. According to Newsweek, the boxes have been set up all over the state, and are promoted as being official drop-off locations for mail-in ballots. However, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has suggested that they may not even be legal.
"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 encourage all the state's citizens to use the real official ballot drop-off boxes that have been provided. "Californians should only use official ballot drop boxes that have been deployed and secured by their county elections office."
Padilla continued, "Official county drop boxes are built with specific security protections, and ballots are retrieved only by designated county personnel. If you do have questions about voting, go to official, reliable sources of information—your county elections office or the Secretary of State's office." At this time, it seems the validity of the boxes remains in question.
The claims appear to have first arisen on Twitter, with someone suggesting that they be investigated. The Orange County Registrar, Neal Kelley, replied to the tweet, advising that the proper officials were doing just that. He also confirmed that Padilla had already been made aware of the situation. He also pointed out that "Third party ballot collections" are not against the law, however, the voter does have to specifically designate the person returning their ballot for them.
Kelley also issued a statement to Newsweek 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 continued, "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."