Republican party operations in Fresno, Los Angeles, and Orange County were busted for bamboozling voters with phony ballot drop boxes, which is totally a felony.
You’ve heard President Trump and his unemployable sons complaining for months that mail-in voting would lead to widespread voter fraud. And now that Governor Newsom has ordered mail-in ballots be sent to every registered voter in the state, allow us to knock you over with a feather with the news that the California Republican party has been caught doing the voter fraud, putting out illegal and unauthorized ballot boxes as SFGate reports. That article picks up on an Orange County Register exposé on a California Republican Party operative posting a fake ballot box on social media, but reporting from other areas of the state has found more unauthorized GOP-owned ballot boxes in other parts of California.
The tweet above, from California Republican Party regional field director Jordan Tygh, is technically deleted from Twitter with the message “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules.” But since he didn’t delete it, you can still find it displaying on various timelines with some clever searching tactics. Tygh is seen giving a thumbs-up in front of what is clearly just any old office filing cabinet, with the message, “Doing my part and voting early,” and “DM me for convenient locations to drop your ballot off at!”
We are looking into this and, to clarify, unauthorized ballot drop boxes are not allowed under state law. Third party ballot collections are allowed, but a voter must designate someone to return their ballot on their behalf. Thank you for reporting this information to us.— OC Registrar (@OCRegistrar) October 11, 2020
SFist would normally be inclined to chalk this up as a rogue operative acting out of line, or perhaps even a set-up by a clever rival operative. But NBC Los Angeles, investigating a similar bogus ballot box at a Los Angeles County church, got the state Republican party to completely admit these boxes are theirs. State GOP spokesperson Hector Barajas declined to say how many of these boxes they’d placed out, but claimed they were legal. “Democrats only seem to object to ballot harvesting when someone else does it," he told the station.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla was clear with the OC Register that this is absolutely not legal. “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,” he said, adding that doing so is a felony with a possible two- to four-year sentence.
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?— CAGOP (@CAGOP) October 11, 2020
The AP adds that there was a similar scheme in Fresno, and SFist found that at least 12 bogus ballot boxes were being operated there by the Fresno County Republican Party. While the Fresno GOP website has removed its listed fraudulent ballot box locations, a quick trip to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine shows 12 Fresno bogus ballot box locations were onthe site as seen below. One of them is the county Republican party headquarters, another is “Sinclair Gas Station,” and half of the others are gun shops with names like “Uncle Sam’s Fire Arms.”
It’s tempting to laugh that this is a hilarious self-own, duping Republican voters into casting their ballots in ways that would disqualify the votes, and hurting Republicans far more than Democrats. But maybe that’s the point. The state GOP may see every major race as essentially lost at this point, so their only hope is stir up as much mistrust as possible, and then rely on histrionics or legal challenges to undermine the electoral outcomes. So maybe they want to gaslight their own voters by sending them to vote at the gas station.
Related: What Are the California November Ballot Initiatives, and How Are They Polling? A Review [SFist]
Image: @JordanTygh via Twitter