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Politics & Government

California’s Unofficial Ballot Box Controversy Misses The North State

A voter drops off a ballot at a Multnomah County dropbox in November 2016.
A voter drops off a ballot at a Multnomah County dropbox in November 2016.

County election offices in northern California have reported no incidents of the unauthorized ballot drop boxes

The controversy surrounding the appearance of unauthorized ballot drop boxes in some southern California counties has so far failed to materialize in the North State.

Recently, state Republican officials installed unauthorized ballot drop boxes in Fresno, San Diego, and Orange Counties. Secretary of State Alex Padilla has ordered them removed, but the GOP has defended the boxes as legal.

According to a recent letter from the California Secretary of State’s office, county election officials alone have the authority to designate the location, hours of operation, and number of official drop boxes available to voters within their county.

Cathy Darling Allen is the Shasta county clerk and registrar of voters. She stays in touch with fellow election officers in neighboring counties and has heard no reports of ad hoc repositories.

"That may be due to the fact that we started using ballot drop boxes in 2012," she says, "so ballot drop boxes are not a new phenomenon in this community, and we have not had any problems with them."

Allen thinks it’s unlikely any of the illicit boxes have been deployed locally either.

"Our citizens are really aware and active, so I am operating under the assumption that somebody would call us and tell us if they thought there was a problem. But I don’t know what I don’t know, so it’s not impossible."