Two days after California Secretary of State Alex Padilla sent a cease-and-desist letter to the California Republican Party for its placement of ballot boxes throughout several counties, the state GOP is saying that it will not stop the program.
In a response to Padilla Wednesday, the party detailed how it intends to continue the ballot box program in five steps:
- Accept vote-by-mail ballots voluntarily delivered by voters to a local party office or headquarters through Election Day.
- Secure such vote-by-mail ballots in a locked and secure box until those ballots are delivered to the appropriate election official no later than 72 hours from receipt.
- Ensure that such boxes are attended to at all times the office is open to the public.
- Instruct staff and volunteers on these procedures.
- Make the boxes, and instructions on its proper use, available to any person or organization desiring to collect vote-by-mail ballots.
The party asserted in the letter that it has not placed boxes unattended, outdoors or in other places where the general public gathers and has not represented the boxes as “official” vote-by-mail drop boxes.
In a press conference Wednesday, party officials confirmed that ballot boxes were placed in Fresno County, Los Angeles County and Orange County, as well as other counties that they declined to name.
California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Patterson blamed the state’s Democrats for legalizing ballot harvesting in the first place, and said that the party is simply playing by the same rules.
“We have been playing by the rules that the California Democrats have given us, and we are going to be ballot harvesting throughout our entire state and have been,” Patterson said. “We did it in the primary, pre-pandemic, and we will continue to ballot harvest.”
Officials argued that Padilla and state Attorney General Xavier Bacerra have no action they can take against the party because no laws have been broken.
Patterson also fired back against Congressman TJ Cox (D–Fresno), who reportedly said the Republican Party is “undermining voters” with this program.
“It’s pretty disappointing that Congressman Cox would want to suppress voters,” Patterson said. “We’re trying to make it easier for voters in all districts around our state to be able to vote, but it’s also not surprising, because this is TJ Cox’s M.O. and California Democrats’ M.O. for that matter: they want ballot harvesting as long as they’re the only ones doing it, and we are committed – and we said this from the beginning – to play by the rules that have been given to us by California Democrats.”
Late Wednesday night, California Republicans pointed to a similar program being executed by Orange County Rep. Harley Rouda (D–Laguna Beach) to collect ballots.
The program run by the Rouda campaign is referred to as a “neighborhood ballot hubs.”