The GOP has crossed the line from suppressing voters to openly criminal behavior.
We are imagining that in the light of recent press, these fake ballot boxes are being scuttled back into the darkened garages from whence they came, but Ventura County voters should still keep an eye out for them. Get familiar with where you SHOULD SEE a ballot drop box in your area from this list. (Outside Ventura Co., go here.) In Ventura, there are (6) – three of them are at the Government Center, and one each is located at City Hall, the Pierpont Inn, and at the Ventura Unified School District office. If you see one that’s not on the list, call the Ventura County Elections Division immediately at (805) 654-2664 or the office of the Sec. of State – (916) 653-6814.
Yeah, it’s illegal!
The box issue.
On Sunday, CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla said that “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. My office is coordinating with local officials to address the multiple reports of unauthorized ballot drop boxes. Californians should only use official ballot drop boxes that have been deployed and secured by their county elections office.” Those operating the unofficial drop boxes could face felony charges that carry up to two to four years in prison.
There are specific rules for maintaining ballot boxes, including the most important one – that they are under the control of the local elections official, not random political operatives. “Official county drop boxes are built with specific security protections, and ballots are retrieved only by designated county personnel.” said Padilla. Registrars also have to follow strict chain of custody rules for accessing the ballots.
Padilla’s office learned of unauthorized boxes in Fresno, Los Angeles, and Orange counties, including in northern LA county, where this one was spotted in front of Freedom’s Way Baptist Church in Castaic. Pastor Jerry Cook promoted the box (great video with article!)on Facebook and the church said the “approved and brought by the GOP,” adding that church officials don’t have a key to the box and that GOP officials would collect the ballots. (UPDATE: One spotted in Simi Valley. Already reported.)
The CA GOP defends their misinterpretation of what they call “ballot harvesting. “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?” a spokesperson for the California GOP wrote on Twitter.
Yep. We’re getting to that. The “RETURN” issue.
Yes, a person other than yourself can deliver your ballot to all the legal options, like the elections office, a in-person polling place or a legitimate drop-off box. You, the voter, must designate a specific person, not an entity like a church or a gun store, to take on this legal responsibility. “The person designated shall return the ballot in person, or put the ballot in the mail, no later than three days after receiving it from the voter or before the close of the polls on election day, whichever time period is shorter.” Failure to do so is a crime.
This is what compliance looks like on from the voter’s standpoint. (More voting information here!)
Why are they risking this highly illegal maneuver?
So help us imaginatively-challenged souls out here. What’s the GOP’s end-game – worth sending some unpaid interns, church pastors and shop owners to jail for a couple of years?
- They can use it to prove that CA doesn’t take voting security seriously, delegitimizing the integriy of our election. With incredible chutzpah, they might even use their own fake boxes as proof of the inherent corruption of mail-in elections, corruption assuredly being done “by both sides.”
- If you’ve gone door knocking recently, an app on your smart phone can tell you the names and party affiliations of everyone in the homes you approach. Your mail-in ballot must include your name and address on the back of the envelope – all the info they need. So…are they planning on returning the Republican ballots in a timely fashion, while letting the odd Democratic ones linger past the deadline? Ballot tracking only works to official places, not to or from fake ballot boxes.
- Are they going use their ill-gotten gains to stage fake post office “lost mail” photo-ops to undermine the reputation of mail delivery?
- OK – this is just to laugh. “On Friday, a regional field director posted a photo on Twitter showing him holding a ballot in front of a box with the label “Official ballot drop-off box,” writing: “Doing my part and voting early… DM me for convenient locations to drop your ballot off at!” This is the same party that only wanted ONE DROP-OFF BOX PER COUNTY IN TEXAS!
- We put no outlandish scheme past a political party who’s encouraging COVID-deniers and QAnon believers. Stay tuned.