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Unofficial ballot drop boxes found in three California counties

Last week, in a photo posted on social media, a man wearing a mask with Orange County congressional candidate Michelle Steel’s name on it is holding a mail ballot and giving a thumbs up next to a box about the size of a file cabinet labeled “Official ballot drop off box,” according to the Orange County Register.

Jordan Tygh, a regional field director for the California Republican Party, was the face behind the post, and he encouraged people to message him for “convenient locations” to drop their own ballots. There was just a small problem with the photo of the ballot drop box – it is not official, and it is not legal, according to California state law.

The ballot boxes have been seen in locations such as churches, local political parties’ offices, and candidates headquarters. Ballot drop boxes are supposed to be under the jurisdiction of county election officials, and operating an unauthoried ballot drop box is a felony, punishable with up to four years in prison.

“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,” Padilla said in a statement, reports The Hill.

Is this legal ballot harvesting?
The California GOP, on its Twitter account, defends the practice, tweeting on Sunday: “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?”

Ballot harvesting is usually done by third-party individuals, volunteers or workers, who gather and submit completed absentee or mail-in voter ballots to polling places or an election office. This method allows voters to designate someone to submit ballots on their behalf.

However, state officials pointed out that using an unauthorized vote-by-mail drop box would not meet the requirements of the law because no designated “person” would be signing for the ballots as required by state law.

It is interesting to note that the term “ballot harvesting” was coined by California Republicans and carries a negative connotation to suggest improprieties and even election fraud.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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