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California GOP spokesperson defends unofficial ballot boxes in interview with ABC 10News

Posted at 6:41 AM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 09:41:35-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Despite criticism, a spokesperson for the California Republican Party told ABC 10News on Tuesday that the party will continue placing unofficial ballot drop boxes around communities.

They've popped up in Orange, Los Angeles, and Fresno counties, but so far none have been reported in San Diego. Several have been labeled "official", as confirmed by CA GOP spokesperson Hector Barajas.

“We could've had better wording on the ballot boxes and so we changed some of the wording around already on the ballot boxes but the important thing to remember is that these ballot boxes are inside our campaign headquarters or inside of businesses or other organizations. It's not as though they're outside in front of a mailbox or outside a library or a secondhand store or another place of business,” he told ABC 10News.

On Monday, California's Secretary of State and the State Attorney General sent a cease and desist to the GOP, calling the boxes illegal. Some argue that the boxes are deceptive and could lead to tampering.

“These boxes are not the same as county election drop boxes that are required to meet state security standards,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Barajas told ABC 10News, “What is happening right now is the Secretary of State -- with this cease and desist -- is basically looking to engage in voter suppression [by] eliminating more options for individuals to be able to drop off their ballot.”

Barajas said that "ballot harvesting" is a practice that allows a third party to collect voters' completed ballots and was legalized four years ago in a bill authored by San Diego Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez.

A tweet Tuesday from one of Gonzalez’s accounts reads, "Apparently, Republicans in our legislature think that when I wrote that a voter could designate a 'person' to turn in their ballot, they thought I meant a fraudulently labeled box. I'm terribly sorry. I will define person next time.”

When asked how many boxes the GOP has placed around the state, Barajas responded, “We're not giving an exact number but we will say that we've got them statewide and with the amount of press we've gotten on this we're considering maybe even doubling or tripling our efforts.”

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters reports it has already received 175,000 completed ballots. A spokesperson said Tuesday that any reports of unofficial ballot boxes would be referred to the Secretary of State.