California’s top elections and law enforcement officials, both Democrats, on Monday said the boxes are illegal, threaten election security and must come down. Those behind the GOP effort could face criminal prosecution, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.
Rick Hasen, an election law expert at University of California, Irvine, said he believes it’s unclear whether the unofficial drop boxes are legal and the courts will have to decide. But he doesn’t recommend them.
“I think it’s a very bad idea. They are not as secure as government drop boxes, which are put in well-lighted places and are tamper-proof,” he said. “I worry about third parties interfering with these privately run drop boxes.”
California has sent every active registered voter a mail-in ballot for the Nov. 3 election and greatly reduced the number of polling places to limit crowds during the pandemic. President Donald Trump and other Republicans have raised questions about the security of mail-in voting, which has been used for many years but will be done at a record level around the country this election.
The California GOP drop boxes are a new version of “vote harvesting,” which is legal in California and allows party volunteers to collect multiple ballots and deliver them to election officials.
California’s election officials say anyone who delivers ballots for others must put their name on those ballots and sign them. But a 2018 state law bars ballots from being disqualified if they fail to include these signatures.
Republicans say that means their volunteers can collect ballots in boxes and turn them in without signing their names.