In a press conference seemingly designed to deescalate a week-long legal standoff, declare victory and profoundly confuse the California press corps, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla said they would not be taking legal action against the California Republican Party for its makeshift ballot box program.
But the two Democrats insisted that the GOP had changed policy in response to their warnings — a claim the Republicans denied.
“We are not going to mother or shepherd someone through every day of activity, but what we are trying to do is make it clear what the law requires,” said Becerra, two days after he threatened the California Republican Party with criminal prosecution.
“We are prepared to enforce those requirements of the law and we wait to see what the Republican Party does. Based on what we find the evidence to be in terms of their activities, that will determine what we do.”
When reporters noted that state Republican Party officials said that, in fact, they would be continuing on with their program as planned, the attorney general said that it was “the deeds not the words that count.” He also said that his office is issuing subpoenas and would continue to monitor the program.
State GOP spokesperson Hector Barajas also declared a win: “If they had something, then something would have been charged today. There would have been an injunction or there would have been a lawsuit.”
He also said the party has not yet received a subpeona.
This is but the latest combative, confusing development in what has been a thoroughly combative and confusing saga.
It began last weekend when photos of a Republican campaign staffer touting on social media a questionably legal ballot-collecting scheme went viral.
On Monday, Padilla and Becerra cried foul and blasted out a cease-and-desist letter. Though California law allows voters to entrust their sealed ballot to a third party who vows to cast it on their behalf, the ballot must be given to a person with a pulse, not a metal box, they argued.
And, they insisted, the ballot must also be signed over to the would be deliverer in order to create legal accountability should the ballot go missing.
The makeshift ballot boxes quickly made national headlines. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom lambasted the program, President Donal Trump tweeted out his defense urging his fellow Republicans to “fight on,” and Becerra promptly sent out a campaign fundraising email off the incidents. Orange County Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda wondered whether the Republican program was all a ploy to systematically “throw away the Dem ballots.”
The GOP’s leadership responded that they would neither cease nor desist. They said that there is nothing in the law that specifically prohibits them from collecting ballots in this way and accused the Democratic secretary of state of hypocrisy for tolerating ballot collection programs operated by Democrats, such as when union members go door-to-door harvesting them.
In Fresno, Orange and Los Angeles counties, the unofficial drop boxes were placed at presumed haunts for conservative voters …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment