California’s top law enforcement official says he’s issued subpoenas in an investigation into the state Republican Party’s deployment of private ballot collection boxes in Fresno and other communities.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra revealed the subpoenas in a call with reporters via teleconference on Friday. He was joined by was joined by Secretary of State Alex Padilla. The officials said they are continuing to monitor the state GOP’s voting-related activities, but did not allege any further misconduct.
“We have issued some subpoenas to the state Republican Party. And so our investigation is ongoing,” Becerra said.
@AGBecerra and @AlexPadilla4CA holding media news conference. They say despite rhetoric from @CAGOP, ballot collection boxes they deemed illegal, GOP “have committed to a number of significant concessions in their ballot collection activities.” pic.twitter.com/CxNlQilIfi
— David Taub (@TaubGVWire) October 16, 2020
Fresno Collection Boxes Removed
Republican Party officials placed and advertised unofficial collection boxes in places like gun shops and smog repair centers.
On Monday, Padilla and Becerra sent cease and desist letters to the state Republican Party as well as the county parties in Fresno, Orange and Los Angeles counties that use of unauthorized ballot collection boxes was against the law.
“Private or public organizations that are not government affiliated are not authorized to collect ballots through some kind of mail-in ballot drop box. That is left to the county officials to do,” Becerra said.
At least in Fresno, local party officials said they removed the boxes ahead of yesterday’s deadline. On Friday, GV Wire℠ inspected three locations where local party officials delivered ballot boxes. No collection boxes were present.
Dispute Over ‘Ballot Harvesting’ Rules
All week long, local and state Republican officials said that their method of collecting ballots was legal under the state’s “ballot harvesting” laws. The state allows a another person to return a ballot, as long as permission is signed over on the back of the envelope, and it is returned within three days.
However, even if the ballots are not signed over, the vote would still count. Padilla said several times he was concerned with the chain of custody of ballots.
State Republican Party officials insist there has been no wrongdoing.
“The Secretary of State and Attorney General didn’t know the facts and didn’t bother to learn them before accusing us on Monday. We can’t agree to not do something we weren’t doing to begin with. They could have shortened this press conference by simply saying ‘Sorry,” state GOP spokesman Hector Barajas said an in email statement.
Padilla was skeptical of the party’s compliance.
“The Republican Party has tried to spin their unlawful conduct by playing the victim all week long. The real victim here is the voters,” Padilla said.
GOP: State Engaging in “Thuggish Voter Intimidation”
Barajas said the GOP has refused to comply with requests included in the state’s cease and desist letter, including to turn over names of people who dropped off ballots in the unofficial boxes.
“This is a thuggish voter intimidation and vote suppression tactic by our Democratic Attorney General and Secretary of State,” Barajas said.
Padilla and Becerra said there is a difference in what the GOP has been saying publicly, and what their attorneys are saying.
“Despite their rhetoric in the press, what we know the Republican Party has agreed to do is to no longer deploy these unstaffed, unsecured, unofficial and unauthorized ballot drop boxes,” Padilla said.