GOP Illegal Ballot Harvesting


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Twitter user Rebecca Albarran posted this photo on Monday of an unofficial ballot drop box outside St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Simi Valley. (Screengrab from Twitter)

Last Monday I read an article online about ballot harvesting. I have never heard of it before so I looked for more information on what exactly ballot harvesting means and why it is now a problem. It became law (I couldn’t find the exact year it came into effect) to help California voters who couldn’t return their mail-in ballots themselves.  Under the law, they could designate a family member or person living in the same household to deliver it for them. This included dropping it off at a ballot drop box, elections office, or the US mail. That sounds pretty straightforward to me.

I did find that in 2016, under Assembly Bill 1921, the state legislature expanded the law to allow any persons to deliver the ballots, which brings us to the 2020 election.

Last Monday the GOP decided to place unofficial, unsecured ballot boxes around cities in California. Doing this is illegal. Hector Barajas, the spokesperson for the Republican Party, argued, “There is nothing in the law stating what type of container can be used to collect ballots, nor does it require the ballots to be signed by the person who delivers them. What we are doing is quite legal and what is allowed within the law.”

I researched his claim and found what the law states on the website, Capital Alert.

“The Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Becerra say the law is quite clear: the unofficial, unauthorized drop boxes in question violate state law and jeopardize the security of voters’ ballots. According to the state officials, the unofficial boxes that appeared over the weekend in Fresno, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties misled voters to believe they were official and secure boxes. Some were set up outside gas stations, party headquarters, and even gun stores. This wouldn’t be a problem if there was an actual person assigned to stand by the ballot boxes. Right now, no one is doing that. There is no accountability when a ballot box is left unattended.

“According to Becerra, ‘The only valid drop boxes are secure receptacles established by local elections officials that also adhere to state security standards, and anyone returning a ballot on behalf of a voter must provide their name, signature, and relation to the voter on the return ballot. Voters must also know who specifically is returning their ballot.'”

I am sure that voters from either party would agree they have the right to know exactly who is picking up the ballots and delivering them to the elections office.

Attorney General Becerra has given the Republican Party until Thursday, October 15th to remove all the unofficial boxes, and as of today, the boxes are still there but the name “official ballot drop box” has since been removed. The boxes are still sitting outside, unattended.

Last week, I dropped off my mail-in ballot at the local grocery store where I live. The ballot box was white metal with the sign “official ballot box” painted on it. It was located inside the store.  Nothing on the box was held together with tape.

I spoke with the store manager today to find out more information about that particular box. He told me that his store was one of six locations that had official ballot boxes. The persons who came to install the box were from the Voters Registrations Office. Each box is locked and requires a key to get in. The manager did not know what happens to the ballots when they leave his store.

To find out what the protocol is for ballot boxes in my county, I emailed the Stanislaus County Elections Office. While I was writing this post, I got a call from Donna Linder the Clerk-Recorder from the Registrar of Voters and she explained the whole process to me.

The boxes put at the locations are certified and have locks on the front of each one. The persons who pick up the ballots are employees, not volunteers. They each went through background checks before they were hired. The ballots are picked up from the designated locations daily by a team of two people and have the only keys to get in each box. They wear orange vests with the name Stanislaus County Elections sewn on the front. The ballots are inside a black bag which is inside the official ballot box. The persons picking up the ballots take out the bag and immediately seal it and scan it with a time stamp. Then they put in a new bag. No one ever touches the ballots. The ballots are brought to the elections office where the bag is scanned again and the ballots are removed.

Ms. Linder told me that this is what Stanislaus County does to make sure our votes are secure. She cannot speak for other counties in California. I suggest that you call your county elections office and find out what they do.

As for the shenanigans the Republicans are doing, I am not surprised. What I do not understand is how so many of those whom we elected and are supposed to be public servants and took an oath to protect American citizens have no trouble acting deceitfully to protect their party. I already know the president lies and cheats every chance he gets in order to get his way. It seems to be part of his DNA.

We will find out tomorrow what the GOP will do about their illegal boxes and what our State Attorney General plans to do if they refuse to comply with his order.

Be sure to register your voter’s information online so you can keep track of where your ballot is. The tracking address information should have already have been mailed to you. If not, you should find it under your county’s voters registration website. Meanwhile, do your own research and share the information through social media. We need to help each other because the ones we elected do not seem to want to do their jobs.

Update, 10/17, from Inge (from her comment below):

I have an update about the GOP ballot harvesting post from a few days ago. At a press conference on Friday, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced they would not pursue legal action about the GOP ballot boxes. This came after the California Republican Party agreed not to place unauthorized ballot drop boxes outdoors, leave drop boxes unattended or present them as official. They will continue to accept ballots delivered by voters to local party offices and secure them in boxes attended by staff or volunteers.

That same day my local newspaper, “The Modesto Bee,” reported that at least three churches in my county, Stanislaus, was using dropoff ballot boxes. I decided to investigate.

This morning Hubby and I drove to Big Valley Grace Community Church to take a look at their ballot box. First of all, it is not a church, it’s a compound. There’s an elementary school, high school, I’m guessing a junior high school, although I didn’t see that building, a huge library, acres of land, and of course the church itself. Since the area was so big, we had no idea where to find a ballot box. The place was empty except for a groundskeeper and a security guard who happened to drive by us in a golf cart.

We asked him where we could find the ballot box but he didn’t know anything about it, except that they had one. The church office was closed, so we couldn’t talk to anyone inside.

We returned home and I looked up The Stanislaus County Republicans Facebook page and found a pinned post showing their endorsements and the same website, StanVote.com, that I used to find information about legal ballot dropoff boxes. I did not see any posts on their page referring voters to use the church drop boxes mentioned in The Modesto Bee.

I sent a message to find out more information and I got a call from a person at the local GOP office within a few minutes. He told me that they are not sending voters to churches. He didn’t have much to say about them, except the churches will probably stop collecting them. He then told me pretty much the same thing Donna Linder from the county clerk’s office told me regarding the protocol.

He then suggested that I go to StanVote.com, and find out where the closest dropoff ballot boxes were to me. I have to admit, he was very helpful and friendly. It makes me wonder why he supports such a loathsome criminal in the White House.

I suggest you contact your local county’s Republican Office and ask them questions. The only way to find out what’s really going on is to ask for yourself. There’s too much disinformation floating around and that includes major media sources.


About Inge

Cancer survivor. Healthy organic food coach. Public speaker. If you have a story you want told, contact me at iscott.orangejuiceblog@gmail.com/