An unauthorized ballot drop off in Fresno County. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s name is misspelled on one of the signs. Courtesy Secretary of State

State officials issued immediate cease-and-desist orders to the California Republican Party on Monday after unauthorized ballot boxes appeared in Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla told a virtual press conference that reports of the unauthorized boxes were received over the weekend in the three counties.

“These boxes are not the same as county elections drop boxes that are required to meet state security standards,” said Padilla. “Unofficial, unauthorized ballot boxes are not permitted by state laws.”

Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said the cease and desist orders were sent to individual members of both the statewide and county Republican parties.

He warned that “tampering with the vote is illegal” and those who do so are subject to prosecution.

The California Republican Party issued a statement arguing that unauthorized drop boxes are permissible.

“In California, where you can have convicted felons and individuals with a criminal history go door-to-door and collect ballots from voters, Democrats are now upset because organizations, individuals and groups are offering an opportunity for their friends, family, and patrons to drop off their ballot with someone they know and trust,” the party said.

Padilla said that while California allows a third party to collect ballots, the person doing the collection must sign official documentation.

In the case of unauthorized drop boxes, voters “do not know who it is they’re surrendering their ballot to.”

He urged voters to confirm drop-off locations by checking the state voting website.

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