OAKLAND – President Donald Trump reached out on Twitter Tuesday to urge the California Republican Party to continue “fighting” to collect ballots in unofficial “dropboxes” across the state, despite legal threats from state officials.
Trump’s comments come a day after senior California officials sent the state party a cease and desist letter urging them to remove the unofficial ballot boxes. The appearance of the boxes prompted Governor Gavin Newsom to accuse California Republicans of “being willing to lie, cheat and threaten our democracy in order to gain power”.
Trump wrote in a Tuesday tweet: “You mean only Democrats are allowed to do this? But haven’t the Dems been doing this for years? See you in court. Fight tough Republicans!”
Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra, both Democrats, have warned Republicans that if they don’t remove their boxes by Thursday, they will be prosecuted.
Trump’s support for the Dropboxing was vindicated by defiant state GOP officials as the two major parties argued over electoral rules during the California pandemic, where the state’s 21.2 million voters have already received their ballots in the mail.
The boxes started popping up in Republican-friendly locations like churches and gun stores when Californians began returning their postal ballots at a record pace last week. With California relying heavily on postal voting this year, the state’s 58 counties have put many more official Dropboxes in a variety of locations from supermarkets to polling stations.
Republicans said Monday that relying on unofficial ballot boxes was no different from the “election harvest” that the Democrats successfully organized in the 2018 midterm elections. Under California law, third party balloting is legal as long as a voter officially authorizes another person to return their ballot for them. In the last election, Democratic volunteers collected ballots from voters who said they wanted help with the submission.
Padilla and Becerra argued Monday that the recent unauthorized dropbox placement by the California GOP in Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange counties is different from Democratic “voting” efforts because voters assume their ballots are about one official looking mechanism are cast – all without signing their ballot papers.
They urged the GOP campaign officials to stop using private containers marked as “official” drop boxes. Official boxes are subject to state safety standards and can only be installed by county registrars.
But the California Republican Party claimed Monday it would continue to rely on the boxes and potentially lead a legal battle with state officials – as Trump hinted in his Tuesday tweet.
Assembly Republican chairwoman Marie Waldron also argued Tuesday that the move was legal. “This issue of the ballot box is easy,” she tweeted. “Republicans trying to expand access to voters; Dems that try to suppress voices. “
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Who appeared on Central Valley radio station KMJ on Tuesday, gave Newsom a terse reply, “Fuck you! You made the law, we will vote on the harvest, ”he said on The Ray Appleton Show.
And Fresno District Republican Party officials also defended the move on Tuesday to set it up.
“We’re not doing anything illegal,” Fred Vanderhoof, Republican chairman of the Fresno district, told GVWire, a local news outlet. “All of the ballot harvest law is deliberately very loose so that Democrats can cheat on what they do in large numbers. You can get ballots, but we can’t. They say that. So you are hypocritical. “
GVWire reported that Vanderhoof placed the boxes in 12 different locations – including a local smog check company that placed a box behind the reception desk with an “Authorized Secure Ballot Drop” sign.