The 2020 presidential election is Tuesday, Nov. 3, and voter registration is now closed. As the day approaches, California is receiving more and more mail-in ballots.
When a voter drops off their ballot they expect it to be secure, to arrive to the right hands and, most importantly, they expect it to count. Recent incidents in the state of California have raised the question: How safe are the votes of the public?
Unauthorized ballot boxes were set up through a GOP ballot collection program in three different counties including Los Angeles, Orange and Fresno. The unofficial ballot boxes were conveniently placed in places like gun shops, churches and gas stations.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla threatened legal action against GOP officials once they were informed of the unofficial ballot boxes.
It was thought that there may be some type of voting fraud and state officials placed a cease and desist order.
Although, the GOP insisted they are collecting votes while abiding by California’s election law. Some of the most worrisome things about unofficial ballot boxes is that they feed into misinformation and put into question the integrity of the ballot boxes.
Voting in presidential elections is stressful as it is, as the country is deciding part of the future four years. The addition of extra unofficial ballot boxes mess with the already established process put into play by the state.
These types of actions have put into question the integrity of the voting process. As it shows the GOP does not trust California officials to do their job honestly which is to collect and count every vote they receive.
Both the Secretary of State and AG want to make sure official ballots are not mishandled. They want to ensure ballot security. California officials can not guarantee the security of the ballots that have been collected by the GOP, as California officials do not have access to ballots dropped off at unofficial boxes.
“Among other things, they will not make available or condone the use of unstaffed, unsecured unofficial ballot drop boxes. This is an important step in stopping the voter confusion created by their ballot collection activities,” said Secretary of State Padilla when speaking on the reaction
The GOP defended their actions in statement released on Oct. 21 via their spokesperson Hector Barajas
“Sacramento Superior Court Judge Brown found that the Attorney General provided no factual basis supporting the state’s demand that we identify the voters who have entrusted us with their ballots,” Barajas said.
Although the judge did side with the GOP that there has been no evidence of mismanagement with the ballots the GOP has collected, it shows a lack of trust in the voting process and has sparked confusion amongst voters who may now question if their vote and voice will actually be heard this election.
Clearly they are not being transparent with voters, the GOP themselves identified them as private therefore they should not be labeled as official as this is feeding into misinformation.
The establishment of unofficial ballot boxes and the secrecy around them has only sparked confusion among state officials and members of the public.
But then another question arises: Did all the members of the public who turned in their ballot at these boxes know they were turning in their votes at unofficial state ballot boxes?
“They need to trust our state in holding a fair election,” said former Delta College student Michael Watson. “I also see the opportunity for everyone to become more civically engaged as everyone can see that elections are important and have serious consequences.”
The actions taken by the GOP expose how fragile this country’s democracy truly is, one simple action like theirs can put into doubt the entire voting process. Of course there are legal consequences to placing fake drop-off ballot boxes if they are in violation of the state Elections Code. Although different independent political groups can easily place their own private ballot boxes, deceiving and interfering with votes of the public.
To find official ballot drop-off boxes, visit https://www.sjgov.org/department/rov/voting/vote-by-mail_ballot_drop_boxes