Reprinted with permission from DailyKos
California Republicans are so concerned about voter fraud that they're flagrantly breaking election laws. They're promoting "official ballot drop off boxes" that are not only not official, they're illegal. Republicans are promoting the "official" drop boxes on social media, with the boxes reportedly located at churches, gun stores, and candidate campaign offices in at least three counties.
Republicans have claimed that the practice is legal under a 2016 California law that allows people to designate a person to drop off their ballots—a benefit to people who have disabilities or are elderly or otherwise might not be able to return their ballots in person. Republicans actually sued to overturn this law, but now they say it allows their unofficial drop boxes. Except it doesn't. Leaving a ballot in an unsecured box does not equal giving it to a designated person.
"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," California Secretary of State Alex Padilla told The Washington Post in an email. "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."
Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley had a succinct explanation of what's going on here: "It would be like me installing a mailbox out on the corner—the post office is the one that installs mailboxes."
The Fresno County Republican Party has a list of "secure" ballot drop box locations on its website—but instead of listing official drop boxes, it lists these illegal ones, while trying to cast suspicion on the entire practice of voting by mail.
"CONSERVATIVE VOTER ALERT!," the party introduces its list. "President Trump is very concerned about the lack of security with mail in ballots. Don't take a chance that your vote will not be counted. Once your ballot arrives in the mail, mark your ballot completely and then walk it in, as soon as possible, to one of the secure locations listed below. Make sure your vote counts!"
It's really not clear how putting your ballot in a less secure box to then be somehow brought to an actual official place for submitting ballots is supposed to be more secure, but security is not the point here. Undermining confidence in the election and causing mayhem are presumably the goals.
The California Republican Party and National Republican Congressional Committee have also defended the practice in tweets.