The metal boxes have popped up around Southern California in recent weeks, from churches to gun stores to gyms. On the front, an authoritative-looking sign beckons to voters: “Official ballot drop-off box.”
The California GOP has pushed voters to pop their mail-in ballots inside. Social media posts have advertised their locations, and one regional field director posted a photo to Twitter on Friday showing him holding a ballot in front of one of the boxes.
“Doing my part and voting early,” Jordan Tygh wrote in the now-deleted tweet, which was reviewed by The Washington Post before it was removed. “DM me for convenient locations to drop your ballot off at!”
But those containers, which were first reported by the Orange County Register and KCAL, are not county-authorized ballot drop-off sites. In fact, the unofficial boxes are against the law, state officials said Sunday.
“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,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, told The Post in an email. “My office is coordinating with local officials to address the multiple reports of unauthorized ballot drop boxes. Californians should only use official ballot drop boxes that have been deployed and secured by their county elections office."
Erecting or advertising unofficial ballot boxes could be a felony that carries a two-to-four-year prison sentence, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Official ballot return locations are listed on the secretary of state’s website. But Republican leaders are encouraging voters to bring their completed ballots to unlisted sites equipped with the unofficial green boxes, at locations including smog checks and gas stations.