We have covered California’s “ballot harvesting” law since 2018. The law allows third parties to collect and deliver ballots. It is suspected that implementation of those rules contributed to the loss of seven Republic congressional seats during that election, allowing the Democrats to regain the House of Representatives.

Now, California’s state Republican Party has taken a page of President Donald Trump’s playbook and decided to fight fire with fire.

California Republican Party officials on Wednesday doubled down on their efforts to use private ballot boxes to collect votes, arguing that the practice was within the bounds of state election law and vowing that they will continue to use the unofficial containers.

In a telephone conference Wednesday afternoon, GOP officials said that they were participating in ballot collection in order to be competitive, using the “same rules and laws” that Democrats use.

“It’s pretty clear that Democrats only care about ballot harvesting when someone else is doing it,” California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said. “The Democrats are the ones that voted for this legislation.”

Republicans say they are operating under a 2016 state law that allows an unlimited number of completed ballots to be collected by an individual or political parties and campaigns.

The state GOP placed the private ballot boxes in Republican-controlled areas. The state’s election officials were up-in-arms over this move.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra, both Democrats, say these boxes are illegal. They say the law only allows drop boxes established by local elections officials. And, they say the law only lets voters give their ballots to a person.

Plus, they worry voters will confuse the boxes with the official ballot drop boxes operated by county election officials.

Republicans say they are following the law and making sure the boxes are secure and monitored. They have admitted it was wrong to label some boxes as “official” and said they stopped doing that. They say the ballot harvesters are not signing the ballots because the law does not disqualify the ballots for lacking harvesters’ signatures.

However, the state has relented after the Republican Party removed the word “official” from the boxes and made a few, minor changes to fully adhere to the 2016 law.

California officials lowered the temperature Friday in their legal standoff with the California Republican Party over its unauthorized ballot boxes, saying the party had committed to enough changes for now to satisfy their concerns.

…California Republican Party said it would continue to accept mail ballots at boxes but promised some safeguards: The boxes will be attended to whenever the public has access to them, and ballots will be secured and then delivered to elections officials within the required 72-hour frame, the party said. The party pledged to not represent those boxes as “official,” saying a volunteer had done so in error, while arguing that the process was legal due to a 2018 law that loosened collection requirements.

“If they want to continue ballot collection activity, that is legal in California, but they must abide by state law around the ballot collection program,” Padilla said..

Ballot harvesting . . . it’s not just for Democrats anymore.


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