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California officials and Republican Party clash over future of unauthorized ballot drop boxes

October 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

California officials and the state's Republican Party clashed on Friday over the future of unauthorized ballot drop boxes installed by the GOP, with Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra saying that he was issuing subpoenas as part of an ongoing investigation.

(CNN)California officials and the state's Republican Party clashed on Friday over the future of unauthorized ballot drop boxes installed by the GOP, with Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra saying that he was issuing subpoenas as part of an ongoing investigation.

The disagreement comes after the California Republican Party installed dozens of unauthorized ballot drop boxes in at least four counties, mostly in Southern California where there are competitive House races this year.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla asserted on Friday that the California Republican Party had agreed to "no longer deploy these unstaffed, unsecured, unofficial and unauthorized ballot drop boxes. " He has previously said the ballot boxes were illegal under state law.

"Despite their client's rhetoric in the press, we've been in communication with legal counsel for the California Republican Party and they have committed to a number of significant concessions in their ballot collection activities," Padilla said in a statement Friday.

The California Republican Party said Wednesday that it would not comply with the state's cease-and-desist order issued Monday.

While images of the ballot boxes have shown the boxes outdoors and labeled as "official," the state GOP said it did not authorize the use of that term and had it removed "within hours. " A photo of one box outside was taken while the box was being delivered to a church, they added.

Becerra said during the press conference Friday that in conversations with the state party, his office had made clear what they believe the law requires and that they're prepared to enforce it.

Ballot collection is allowed in the state but must abide by the existing laws which include specifics on chain of custody, Padilla said, adding that "the Republican Party is ensuring that those measures are being taken, then that's fine. "

Padilla's office sent a five-page memo to counties earlier this week explaining their interpretation of the relevant state laws, which regulate ballot drop boxes and ballot collection efforts by third parties.

Padilla's office says state law only permits election officials -- not political parties -- to establish drop boxes for voters to return their ballots.

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