The California Republican Party refused to comply with a state order to halt its use of fake “official” ballot drop boxes even though officials say they are “illegal,” The New York Times reports.
The party admitted after repeated inquiries that it was behind ballot drop boxes set up in Los Angeles, Orange, and Fresno counties.
On Monday, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla sent cease-and-desist orders to the state party and its chapters in the three counties requiring them to stop using and promoting the boxes.
“Misleading voters is wrong regardless of who is doing it,” Padilla said in a news conference, adding that the boxes are “not permitted by state law.”
Becerra said the boxes were “fake” and added that it was “illegal to tamper with a citizen’s vote.”
GOP refuses to comply:
Hector Barajas, a spokesman for the state GOP, told the Times that the party would not stop using the boxes and argued they were legal under a 2016 law that allowed “ballot harvesting,” which permits third parties to submit ballots on voters’ behalf.
“There is nothing in any of the laws or regulations cited in that advisory that indicate private organization drop boxes are not permitted,” he said. “The way Democrats wrote the law, if we wanted to use a Santa bag, we could. A locked heavy box seems a lot safer,”
Padilla rejected that claim, arguing the boxes were intended to “mislead voters and erode the public trust.”
State threatens legal action:
"Nothing reeks of desperation quite like the Republican Party organization these days -- willing to lie, cheat, and threaten our democracy all for the sake of gaining power," said Gov. Gavin Newsom. "These unofficial drop boxes aren't just misleading, they are illegal."
Becerra said that the state may take legal action if the party does not comply.
"We hope that the message goes out loud and clear to anyone who is trying to improperly solicit, obtain, and manage a citizen's vote that they are subject to prosecution," he said. "I'm trying to be careful with how I say this, but the reports we are hearing are disturbing."