On Wednesday, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge David Brown sided with the California Republican Party against the order of Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla to give the state information on the party’s ballot box drop program.
Earlier this month, ballot box drop offs set up by the GOP in three counties had been ordered to be removed, with state election officials calling them illegal. Republicans had countered back that setting up drop off boxes was not illegal and had refused to comply with the state order. Last Friday, state officials had backed off on their cease and desist order, focusing on legal action into finding out more on the GOP’s drop box program.
We're seeking a court order to compel the California Republican Party to comply with investigative interrogatories.
Here in California, we’re doing everything in our power to protect the integrity of our elections. https://t.co/8WRwoNglB5
— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) October 20, 2020
However, Judge Brown ruled that there was no “no immediate harm or irreparable injury” to California if the GOP didn’t information about their drop boxes Attorney General Becerra had argued that that information was essential to make sure that there was no wrongdoing by the party when they returned ballots in the coming weeks. Wednesday’s ruling confirmed that that the GOP’s ballot collection boxes are following state election law.
“The California Republican Party prevailed today in a hearing on the state’s attempted voter privacy violations and partisan harassment initiated by the California Attorney General and Secretary of State,” said GOP spokesman Hector Barajas in a written statement. “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, in connection with the CAGOP’s ballot collection program, and no legal authority for demanding those answers in mere days. Judge Brown even brought up Rep. Harley Rouda’s “neighborhood hubs” ballot gathering program, similar to the CAGOP’s, forcing the Attorney General’s office to hint they “may” be looking into it.
“The California Republican Party will continue to help Californians vote safely and securely by continuing to gather ballots in trusted places, and deliver them promptly according to law. We urge voters to get their votes in NOW to avoid lines on Election Day.”
“The California Republican Party prevailed today in a hearing on the state’s attempted voter privacy violations and partisan harassment initiated by @AGBecerra and @CASOSvote @AlexPadilla4CA . pic.twitter.com/yZMHYAwhXD
— CAGOP (@CAGOP) October 21, 2020
“The GOP simply forgot to tell state officials what they were doing, and that panicked them more than it should have,” explained election volunteer Raymond Winters. “They labeled them wrongly and officials thought the worst.
“Republicans were really worried about ballot harvesting like in 2018, and did this to sort of combat it. Basically everyone is at some degree of fault over this, but the court now says that they are on the up and up. The national media made a huge thing of it, but it was really just a few mistakes and officials being really concerned about vote-counting this year.”
Both Attorney General Becerra and Secretary of State Padilla will likely go to court again over getting information about the drop boxes, with representatives for the two confirming that other ballot collections in the state are currently being examined.
“If this was anyone but the GOP, you wouldn’t have heard anything about it most likely,” added Winters. “Their investigations usually don’t make national news.”