California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra. Courtesy of his office

The California Attorney General’s Office Tuesday filed a petition to compel state Republican Party officials to comply with subpoenas regarding the use of unofficial ballot collection boxes, which the Secretary of State and prosecutors say are illegal.

Republican Party officials balked at the subpoenas seeking more information about the use of the ballot boxes.

“This is an abuse of power,” said Hector Barajas, a spokesman for the state GOP. “The California Republican Party responded and objected to the Attorney General’s subpoenas on numerous grounds, including the right to privacy. We will stand up to this type of authoritarian bullying tactics. The California Republican Party will not provide the Secretary of State or the Attorney General a list of Californians who attend religious services, frequent firearms retailers, participate in political events, or engage in any other lawful activity.”

Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who filed the petition in Sacramento Superior Court, said the effort to gain more information about the use of the unauthorized ballot boxes and those voters who used them was meant to “protect the integrity of our elections.”

Last week, Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla issued cease-and-desist orders regarding the use of the ballot boxes. They later said Republican Party officials agreed to stop using the boxes, but GOP leaders said they never agreed to that and said they intend to keep using them.

The unofficial ballot boxes found in Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange counties stirred up complaints of possible election fraud as critics said activists could easily scan which ballots were cast by Democrats and which ones came from Republicans.

Republican Party officials conceded that it was a mistake for activists to put signs on the boxes declaring they were “official” and agreed to take them off. They called the ballot boxes, however, a legal form of “ballot harvesting” in which activists could collect ballots from voters who cannot make it to the polls or a drop box and deliver the votes for them.

Becerra and Padilla, however, said someone must be posted with the boxes and that the conveyors of the ballots must sign the ballot envelope agreeing to take custody of the votes.

Confusing matters is a pledge by voting officials to accept the ballots with or without the deliverer’s signature.

– City News Service