OAKLAND — President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to advise the California Republican Party to “fight on” in its move to collect ballots in unofficial “drop boxes’’ around the state, in defiance of legal menaces from state officials.
Trump’s comments come a day after top California officials sent the state party a cease-and-desist notice, ordering them to remove the unofficial ballot drop containers. The look of the boxes motivated Gov. Gavin Newsom to accuse California Republican of “willing to lie, cheater and threaten our republic all for the purposes of the derive power.”
Trump, in a Tuesday tweet , wrote, “You mean only Democrat are allowed to do this? But haven’t the Dems been doing this for years? See you in courtroom. Fight hard-boiled Republican! ”
Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra, both Democrat, have warned Republicans that if they do not remove their containers by Thursday, they will face prosecution.
Trump’s support of the drop boxes has been echoed by defiant state GOP officials as the two major parties feud over election rules during the pandemic in California, where the state’s 21.2 million voters already have received their votes by mail.
The cartons surfaced at Republican-friendly venues such as religions and gun stores as Californians last week began returning their mail votes at a record pace. Because California is relying heavily on mail balloting this year, the state’s 58 districts have placed many more official drop containers at various locatings, from supermarkets to elections offices.
Republicans on Monday said relying on unofficial ballot boxes was no different than the “ballot harvesting” that Democrat organized with great success during the 2018 midterm elections. Under California law, third-party collection of ballots is legal as long as a voter formally approves another person to return their vote for them. Democratic volunteers in the recent elections compiled votes from voters who indicated they craved assist submitting them.
Padilla and Becerra on Monday argued that the California GOP’s recent placement of unauthorized plummet boxes in Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange counties differs from Democratic “ballot harvesting” struggles because voters assume their ballot will be delivered via an official-looking mechanism — all without signing their ballots.
They challenged GOP campaign officials stop using private containers celebrated as “official” drop containers, saying official boxes are subject to state security standards and can only be installed by county registrars.
But the California Republican Party on Monday asserted that it would continue to rely on the boxes, potentially setting up a legal battle with state officials — as Trump alluded to in his Tuesday tweet.
Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron likewise argued Tuesday the move was legal. “This ballot collection box issue is simple, ’’ she tweeted. “Republicans trying to expand voter access; Dems trying to suppress votes.”
Rep. Devin Nunes( R-Calif .), appearing on Central Valley radio station KMJ Tuesday, had a terse response to Newsom: “Screw you! You developed the law, we’re going to ballot harvest, ’’ he said on “The Ray Appleton Show.”
And Fresno County Republican Party officials Tuesday also defended the move to set them up.
“We are doing nothing illegal, ” Fresno County Republican Chair Fred Vanderhoof told GVWire, a local news site. “The whole ballot reaping statute is purposely designed extremely loosely so the Democrat can cheat, which they are doing in large numbers. They can do ballot reaping, but we can’t. That’s what they’re saying. So they’re hypocritical.”
GVWire reported that Vanderhoof set up the boxes in 12 different locations — including a neighbourhood smog check business, where a cardboard box was placed behind the front table with a sign stating, “Authorized Secure Ballot Drop.”
Read more: politico.com