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Trump urges California GOP to ‘fight on’ with unofficial ballot boxes despite prosecution threat

OAKLAND — President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to urge the California Republican Party to “fight on” in its move to collect votes in unofficial “drop boxes’’ around the state, in defiance of legal menaces from state officials.

Trump’s statements come a day after top California officials mailed the state party a cease-and-desist notice, ordering them to remove the unofficial ballot drop cartons. The appearing of the boxes motivated Gov. Gavin Newsom to accuse California Republican of “willing to lie, defraud and threaten our democracy all for the sake of gaining power.”

Trump, in a Tuesday tweet , wrote, “You mean merely Democrat are allowed to do this? But haven’t the Dems been doing this for years? See you in court. Fight hard-boiled Republican! ”

Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra, both Democrats, have warned Republicans that if they do not remove their containers by Thursday, they will face prosecution.

Trump’s support of the drop-off boxes has been echoed by defiant nation GOP officials as the two major parties feud over election rules during the pandemic in California, where the state’s 21.2 million voters already have received their votes by mail.

The containers surfaced at Republican-friendly venues such as religions and gun stores as Californians last week began returning their mail ballots at a record pace. Because California is relying heavily on mail balloting this year, the state’s 58 counties have placed many more official drop containers at various locations, from supermarkets to elections offices.

Republicans on Monday said relying on unofficial ballot box was no different than the “ballot harvesting” that Democrats organized with great success during the 2018 midterm elections. Under California law, third-party collection of ballots is legal as long as a voter formally permits another person to return their ballot for them. Democratic volunteers in the recent elections collected votes from voters who confirmed that they craved assistance submitting them.

Padilla and Becerra on Monday argued that the California GOP’s recent placement of unauthorized fell containers in Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange counties differs from Democratic “ballot harvesting” efforts because voters assume their ballot will be delivered via an official-looking mechanism — all without signing their ballots.

They demanded GOP campaign officials stop using private containers marked as “official” drop boxes, saying official boxes are subject to state security standards and can only be installed by county registrars.

But the California Republican Party on Monday asserted that it would continue to rely on the boxes, potentially setting up a legal battle with state officials — as Trump alluded to in his Tuesday tweet.

Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron also argued Tuesday the move was legal. “This ballot collection box issue is simple, ’’ she tweeted. “Republicans trying to expand voter access; Dems trying to suppress votes.”

Rep. Devin Nunes( R-Calif .), appearing on Central Valley radio station KMJ Tuesday, had a terse response to Newsom: “Screw you! You developed the existing legislation, we’re going to ballot harvest, ’’ he said on “The Ray Appleton Show.”

And Fresno County Republican Party officials Tuesday also defended the move to set them up.

“We are doing nothing illegal, ” Fresno County Republican Chair Fred Vanderhoof told GVWire, a neighbourhood news area. “The whole ballot reaping constitution is purposely designed extremely loosely so the Democrats can cheat, which they are doing in large numbers. They can do ballot reaping, but we can’t. That’s what they’re saying. So they’re hypocritical.”

GVWire reported that Vanderhoof set up the boxes in 12 different locations — including a local pollution check business, where a cardboard container was placed behind the front desk with a sign stating, “Authorized Secure Ballot Drop.”

Read more: politico.com

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