Claim: Unauthorized ballot drop boxes—some marked as “official”—have been appearing in Los Angeles, Orange, and Fresno counties in California. It was reported that the California Republican Party was behind these illegal ballot boxes.
Rating: This is TRUE. The California Republican Party admitted responsibility for placing more than 50 deceptively labeled “official” drop boxes for mail-in ballots in these counties—an action that state officials have called illegal and could lead to election fraud. State officials have ordered the boxes be removed, but GOP leaders have not complied. State officials and prosecutors are currently investigating.
On the weekend of October 10, election officials received reports of unauthorized ballot boxes in battleground congressional districts in Fresno, Los Angeles, and Orange counties. While the boxes did not look like the official ballot boxes issued by the counties, they could be mistaken for one since they were deceptively marked as “official ballot drop boxes,” “ballot drop boxes,” or “secure.” They were found in front of churches, political party headquarters, and gun shops. Known sites of some of the unauthorized boxes were reportedly not found on any official county voting websites.
The California secretary of state issued a memo stating the unauthorized ballot drop boxes were illegal and was a felony punishable of up to four years in prison. “In short, providing unauthorized, non-official vote-by-mail ballot drop boxes is prohibited by state law,” the memo said.
State regulations say that only county officials have the authority to designate the location, hours of operation, and number of drop boxes in a county.
California’s Republican Party acknowledged that they placed the ballot drop boxes. The state GOP spokesman Hector Barajas said the boxes are allowed under the state’s “ballot harvesting” law. Under California law, it is legal for voters to hand their absentee or mail-in ballots to a third party, who will then drop them into a mailbox or polling place.
Barajas declined to say how many boxes exist and where they are located. But an operative with direct knowledge of the effort said that Republican officials purchased about 100 of the boxes to boost turnout, especially in competitive down-ballot races. They installed about half of them by the time state officials noticed.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that the ballot boxes are illegal and issued a cease and desist order demanding that GOP officials remove the boxes by Oct. 15. They said that in order to safely drop off their ballot to a third party, the voter has to know who that person is they’re giving the ballot to, and both parties have to sign the ballot envelope to establish a paper trail. The Republican-installed ballot boxes are not secure and can easily be tampered with. In addition, marking an unofficial ballot box as “official” can be seen as impersonating an elections officer, which is a felony.
On October 21, 2020, a judge in Sacramento ruled that the California Republican Party did not have to comply with an investigation related subpoena from California Attorney General Becerra, the investigation was later dropped, partly due to the boxes getting labeled correctly by removing the ‘Official’ label.
According to photos on the official county websites, here is what the official ballot drop boxes look like:
For a list of official drop boxes locations, visit the official county voting websites:
Fresno county ballot box information:
English and Vietnamese: https://www.co.fresno.ca.us/departments/county-clerk-registrar-of-voters
Orange county ballot box information:
Los Angeles county ballot box information: