The US Election has been dogged by controversies over the voting process. The latest drama stems from unauthorized ballot boxes put in place by California Republicans.
The California GOP has undermined President Donald Trump‘s allegations of Democratic voter fraud and irregularities. Reports of unauthorized ballot boxes broke out on October 13th. California Secretary of State and Department of Justice have sent a cease and desist order to the California Republican Party to remove unofficial ballot drop boxes placed in at least three counties. The officials announced this in a press conference.
“These unauthorized drop boxes are a disservice to state and local election administrators who have spent months working on the placement and deployment of official ballot drop boxes,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. In response, the California Republican party has agreed to no longer deploy “unstaffed, unsecure and unauthorized ballot drop boxes” in the state after initially stirring up the latest controversy linked to the US Presidential Elections 2020.
These unauthorized drop boxes are a disservice to state and local election administrators.California Secretary of State Alex Padilla
The Unofficial Ballot Boxes Issue
California has sent out ballots to all registered voters which can be filled and returned at official ballot boxes. These ballot boxes have anti-fraud safeguards to make sure the ballots are filled and submitted by the correct voter. The Republican Party has put out unofficial ballot boxes in California with the label official on some of them in the counties of Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange. The unofficial ballot boxes were installed in dozens of places across these counties. The California state law doesn’t allow unofficial ballot boxes. The state has only authorized county election officials to oversee these drop boxes. The state has also asked GOP to remove all unofficial ballot boxes after the county officials expressed alarm.
Watch: The State of California clashes with Republican Party for Unofficial Ballot Boxes
While initially the California GOP chose not to comply with the cease and desist order and has decided to contest the order further. “Ballot harvesting program will continue,” California Republican Party spokesperson Hector Barajas said in a statement.
The Reason behind the controversy
The Republican party has claimed that the boxes were just an attempt to collect people’s ballots and give them to the officials but the placement of the boxes suggest otherwise. The boxes were placed in the more conservative-leaning areas in California. It is interesting to note that most of them were at churches and gun shops, two spots popular with the Republican voting base. This clearly seems like an attempt to bag more votes.
Watch: California Republican party defends its move
“Republicans are in a tough spot,” Hasen said. “On one hand, you have the President, who is criticizing vote-by-mail and says it is prone to fraud. On the other hand, Republicans in California has long relied on a strong vote-by-mail operation to get out the Republican vote.”
Most of them unofficial ballot boxes were placed at churches and gun shops, two spots popular with the Republican voting base.
Legal Implications of the Move
Republicans technically broke the law. The California Secretary of State, a Democrat has issued a five-page memo to the counties with their explanation of election laws etc. The memo sharply states that the Republicans violated laws on ballot collection, which is called “ballot harvesting.”
Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California is “prepared to take action to enforce state law, should it become necessary,” according to the Cease and Desist letter. The Orange Counties’ District Attorney’s office said that it has already launched an investigation into the matter. District Attorney Todd Spitzer, a Republican, said in a press release that he “will not tolerate anyone interfering with someone’s ability to have their voice heard in our democratic process,” and would evaluate whether criminal charges are warranted.
Republicans violated laws on ballot collection, which is called “ballot harvesting.”
Mail-in Votes and Republicans
The pandemic has definitely made mail-in votes more popular, along with making it a hot topic in the Republican Party, especially with President Donald Trump. The Trump administration has made every attempt to undermine 2020 Presidential Elections with measures like discontinuing security briefings on election issues for the Congress, conducted by the Intelligence chief. Apart from attacking the integrity of the system, the party has also contested the voting method in courts.
These moves by the Republican party have just one motive, to win the November 2020 election by any means possible. The party is looking for a desperate alibi to the opinion polls which clearly show Joe Biden and the Democrats in the lead. The path to elections and the aftermath of the election will be a tricky one with the GOP’s attitude and Trump stating that he might not clear the White House despite the results.
The move shows how the Republican party is getting desperate with opinion polls clearly tilting towards Biden and the Democrats.