California's Republican Party says it will change the labeling on its unofficial ballot drop boxes but will not remove them, after state elections officials called the boxes illegal and ordered the party to stop.
The boxes have popped up in Los Angeles, Orange and Fresno counties.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced a cease-and-desist order on Monday in conjunction with state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, giving state and county Republican Party officials until Thursday to comply. The boxes bear signs describing them as “official” ballot drop boxes.
But State GOP spokesman Hector Barajas now says that instead of removing them, the party may put out more boxes since they got so much attention, although they may change the labeling to avoid confusion.
The party has insisted that the boxes are legal under California’s so-called “vote harvesting” law which allows volunteers and campaign workers to collect and submit completed ballots on a voter’s behalf.
Barajas said with concerns about voter suppression swirling, this is an opportunity for voters to drop off their ballots with someone they trust.
President Trump, who for months has raised concerns not supported by evidence that there would be widespread voter fraud this election, encouraged the state GOP Wednesday to "fight hard.
The state GOP has opposed the ballot collection law in the past.
In a memo Sunday, Padilla wrote that the boxes may mislead voters into thinking they are submitting their ballots directly to county elections officials.
Padilla also clarified that only elections officials are allowed to establish ballot boxes.
He said while state law does allow someone to submit a ballot on behalf of another person, voters must designate and sign their ballot over to that person as a way to protect against fraud. Because voters using the GOP’s drop boxes are not identifying the person who will submit their ballot, the process is not secure.
Becerra has advised people to report any such boxes.
Voters can follow the progress of their mail-in ballot through the state's ballot tracking system at vote.ca.gov.