Candidates battle over ballot box collections

Republicans claim fair use of state ‘ballot harvesting’ law

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An official voting drop box is located at the Mary Wilson Library. Photo by Jeannette Andruss

Unauthorized California ballot drop boxes are causing a new fight during the election season. Boxes labeled as ballot drop off boxes are showing up and the Secretary of State’ office, as well as local election offices are ordering them to be removed as they are not official ballot drop off sites.

A photo making the rounds on social media was alleged to have been taken at a drop box at the office of 48th Congressional Candidate Michelle Steel. Steel office released a statement on the issue, but also noted that the reports of the box being at her campaign headquarters were not accurate. The office also confirmed that the individual who posted the photo next to the disputed box, is a CAGOP employee. As for the collection of ballots, Steel’s office is standing by the efforts of Republicans to collect ballots.

“Ballot harvesting is legal in California to which Democrats like Harley Rouda have used to great effect, and so long as it is done legally, I have no issue with ensuring that there are increased options to voting, particularly for churchgoers and minority communities. What I do not support are efforts by tax-dodgers like Harley Rouda to suppress the vote of Orange County residents. All votes should be counted legally,” at statement released by Steel’s office read.

But election officials have stated that the boxes are misleading and come across as official election office collection boxes. That differs from someone delivering ballots for those who can’t vote in person.

Rouda’s office released a statement asserting that Steel and republicans iare trying to subvert the election process.

“Michelle Steel is proving, yet again, that she is the most corrupt politician in Orange County. Orange County deserves a leader who will protect the integrity of our elections, not orchestrate voter fraud. This craven, illegal, and criminal behavior is disqualifying,” the statement read.

Release from Orange County Registrar of Voters

There have been recent reports of groups promoting unofficial ballot drop boxes that are not affiliated with Orange County, CA Elections. In some instances, they are promoting these ballot drop boxes as “official” or “secure.” The use of unauthorized, non-official ballot drop boxes is prohibited by state law.

Voters who want to return their ballot at a drop box should only use official county drop boxes. Official ballot drop boxes are clearly recognizable, designed to meet state standards for security, and bear the official Orange County Elections logo and Orange County seal.                               

“One of my important roles as the chief election official for Orange County is to provide options for voters – in fact tens of thousands of voters have utilized our official ballot drop boxes in recent days.” Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said. “It’s important for groups, or individuals, to understand that attempting to post or install unofficial ballot drop boxes is in violation of state law. Voters can contact my office at 714-567-7600 to report any concerns.”