The state Republican Party has removed their unstaffed, unofficial ballot drop boxes that state officials deemed illegal, California’s secretary of state said Friday, and subpoenas are being issued to get more information about them as the state attorney general looks into possible election law violations.
Republicans confirmed they had yanked boxes that were improperly labeled “official” but say they will continue to use dozens of other boxes without the labels that have been sent to various counties.
The back-and-forth comes after a weeklong controversy over the GOP’s ballot collection in California and as votes are already pouring in to county offices in what’s expected to be a very high turnout for the Nov. election.
Last weekend, California election officials said they learned Republicans had been using their own drop boxes to collect ballots from voters at churches, political offices and some businesses in Los Angeles, Orange and Fresno counties, which all have hotly contested congressional races.
Democrats and state officials said the boxes were misleading and threatened election security. The state contended the law only allows for secure drop boxes set up by local election officials and sent a letter ordering the state Republican Party to remove its boxes.
The GOP said it would change how the boxes were labeled to avoid confusion but would continue to use them to collect ballots under the state’s rules allowing so-called ballot harvesting. Since then, Republican Party officials have repeatedly declined to say how many boxes they’re still using or all the counties the boxes are located.