PALMDALE — The west side of Palmdale is getting the short shrift when it comes to official Los Angeles County vote-by-mail drop box locations according to Mayor Steve Hofbauer.
The Antelope Valley has 17 of the 403 official LA County drop box locations. The west side of Palmdale has one; there are three on the east side of town.
“There’s only one in west Palmdale. There’s only one in Council District 2,” Hofbauer said, adding he wanted “more equitable distribution of access for our voters.”
Hofbauer represented Council District 2 before he was elected mayor in November 2018. Mayor Pro Tem Richard Loa now represents the district.
Hofbauer said the county is denying access to people by limiting Palmdale’s west side to one drop box.
“There are over 400 drop boxes throughout the county. Specifically to Palmdale I couldn’t tell you whether or not our office is installing additional boxes or not,” said Mike Sanchez, a spokesman with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.
Hofbauer posted a notice on his Facebook page with a partial list of churches that added cardboard drop boxes at their places of worship for the convenience of their congregations and the community at large.
“It was encouraged to get out the vote. They were looking for a mechanism to do that,’ Hofbauer said, adding he got the list from a community member.
Hofbauer has since deleted the post.
The post coincided with reports over the weekend that the California Republican Party placed unofficial ballot collection boxes at churches and other locations in Los Angeles, Orange, and Fresno counties.
State officials say they’re illegal. State law prohibits the use of unofficial ballot drop boxes.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday sent a cease and desist order to the California Republican Party to stop operating unofficial ballot drop boxes.
“Misleading voters is wrong, regardless of who is doing it,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement. “Political parties and campaigns can engage in get out the vote efforts, but they cannot violate state law. The unofficial, unauthorized drop boxes in question violate state law and jeopardize the security of voters’ ballots. State and local elections officials have worked tirelessly to provide voters multiple safe, secure options to return their vote-by-mail ballots. These unauthorized drop boxes are a disservice to elections administrators and a disservice to voters who deserve to cast their ballots with clarity and confidence.
State law allows a registered voter to designate another person to turn in their ballot by filling out a special section on the return envelope.
“In California, where you can have convicted felons and individuals with a criminal history go door to door and collect ballots from voters, Democrats are now upset because organizations, individuals and groups are offering an opportunity for their friends, family, and patrons to drop off their ballot with someone they know and trust. The Democrat anger is overblown when state law allows organizations, volunteers or campaign workers to collect completed ballots and drop them off at polling places or election offices,” the California GOP said in a statement posted on its Twitter account.
City of Palmdale staff are in discussions with the LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office seeking additional Vote Centers and Vote by Mail Drop Box locations on the City’s west side. Once approved, the additional sites will be identified on the Vote Center and Vote By Mail Drop Box locations maps at LAvote.net
“We will also send a subsequent press release and City of Palmdale map once all sites have been finalized,” Palmdale City Manager J.J. Murphy said in a statement. “As we work with the County during this COVID-19 pandemic, all agencies are trying to collaborate to make voting safe and convenient. I would encourage everyone to follow the message of Susan B. Anthony when she said, ‘Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.’”
The City of Palmdale sent out a release Tuesday restating an Oct. 11 memorandum from Padilla’s office warning that the use of unauthorized, non-official vote by mail ballot drop boxes does not comply with state law governing ballot collection activities.
If you have questions about vote-by-mail drop boxes or are aware of any unofficial boxes call 1-800-815-2666, then choose option 2. You can also email email@example.com or go to LAvote.net to use the locator tool to find Drop Boxes throughout LA County. This information is also printed on the vote-by-mail drop boxes.
Voters may return their ballots either by mail (no postage is necessary), in person at any vote-by-mail drop box location, or at any vote center in LA County. A list of all vote centers and vote-by-mail drop box locations is available at LAvote.net. Ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov. 3 to be counted.
Voters can ballot online at www.california.ballottrax.net/voter. This is a free service to all registered voters to give you updated information on when your ballot has been mailed, received, and counted.
For those who wish to vote in person, voting centers provide a safe option to cast your vote. You may vote at any vote center in LA County. A list of vote centers is available at LAvote.net
For details about voting in general or the City’s municipal election, please call the City Clerk’s office at 661-267-5151 or visit www.cityofpalmdale.org/Elections