California Republicans are allegedly trying to prove that voter fraud is real by committing actual election fraud.
Metal containers marked “Official ballot drop-off box” have been popping up in gyms, gun stores, campaign headquarters, and even churches across California in recent weeks, with Republicans urging voters to drop their ballots inside.
But these boxes are not official ballot drop boxes, and the Republicans who have been actively promoting them in recent weeks could face criminal charges.
“Doing my part and voting early,” Jordan Tygh, a GOP regional field director, said in a now-deleted tweet posted last Friday. “DM me for convenient locations to drop your ballot off at!”
The tweet was accompanied by a picture of Tygh kneeling in front of one of the unofficial boxes, holding a ballot, and wearing a mask with Orange County congressional candidate Michelle Steel’s name on it.
But this box is not an isolated incident.
The California Secretary of State confirmed Sunday that his office has received reports in recent days about possible unauthorized ballot drop boxes in Fresno, Los Angeles, and Orange counties, the Orange County Register reported.
Another box was spotted outside the Freedom’s Way Baptist Church in Castaic in northern LA county, and its presence was promoted on Facebook by Pastor Jerry Cook. “Our church has a voting drop box in front of our complex — if you are voting early, drop your ballot on by,” Cook said in the now-deleted post.
A post from the church said that the box was “approved and brought by the GOP,” adding that church officials don’t have a key to the box and that GOP officials would collect the ballots.
Cook did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but he told a local Fox station that he was confident the box was official.
Fresno County Republican Party also posted a list of “secure” ballot collection locations but none of the locations on the list, which include its own headquarters and multiple gun shops are official county drop box sites.
The California Republican Party has not responded officially to questions about the boxes, but it has been defending its position on Twitter.
“If a congregation/business or other group provides the option to its parishioners/associates/ or colleagues to drop off their ballot in a safe location, with people they trust, rather than handing it over to a stranger who knocks on their door — what is wrong with that?” the @CAGOP account tweeted on Sunday.
But in California, ballot drop boxes can only be overseen by county elections officials who chose the number, location, hours of operation, and other details. Registrars have to make sure the boxes follow strict guidelines, ensuring their security and chain of custody for the ballots.
“Operating unofficial ballot drop boxes — especially those misrepresented as official drop boxes — is not just misleading to voters, it’s a violation of state law,” Alex Padilla, California’s Secretary of State, said in a statement issued on Sunday evening.
“My office is coordinating with local officials to address the multiple reports of unauthorized ballot drop boxes. Californians should only use official ballot drop boxes that have been deployed and secured by their county elections office.”