Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to the state Republican Party over unauthorized ballot drop boxes that officials said were illegal.

Driving the news: The California GOP acknowledged on Monday that it owned several unofficial drop boxes in southern California. Earlier reports of the boxes in Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange counties prompted Padilla to issue a memo on Sunday telling county registrars that the unofficial drop boxes were illegal, per AP.

  • The reports included a tweet by Jordan Tygh, a regional field director for the California Republican Party, who posted a photo of himself next to an unauthorized drop box last week, the Orange County Register notes.
  • Freedom’s Way Baptist Church in the Los Angeles area also incorrectly labeled a drop box as "official," per KCAL 9.

What they're saying: California GOP spokesperson Hector Barajas acknowledged in an emailed statement Monday that the party owns the boxes.

  • He declined to say how many there are and their locations.
  • In the statement sent before the cease and desist letter was announced, Barajas claimed that the state’s law governing so-called ballot harvesting allows a group to collect and return ballots.
  • "The Democrat anger is overblown when state law allows organizations, volunteers or campaign workers to collect completed ballots and drop them off at polling places or election offices," Barajas said.

"If Democrats are so concerned with ballot harvesting, they are the ones who wrote the legislation, voted for it, and [former] Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law. California Republicans would be happy to do away with ballot harvesting."

The bottom line: “Misleading voters is wrong regardless of who’s doing it," Secretary of State Padilla said in a Monday afternoon news conference with Becerra.

  • "Unofficial ballot drop boxes are prohibited — third party ballot collections are allowed, but a voter must designate someone to return their ballot on their behalf," the Orange County Registrar of Voters added in a press release on Monday.

What's next: The California Republican Party has until Thursday to stop using the boxes.

  • Padilla and Becerra said they would consider legal options if the state GOP does not comply.

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

Go deeper

Oct 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Iowa Supreme Court sides with GOP in absentee ballot requests ruling

A person voting in Davenport, Iowa, on Oct. 5. Photo: Daniel Acker for The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Iowa Supreme Court upheld a law that prevents county election auditors from using the state's voter registration database to fill in any missing information or correct errors on ballot applications as they have in prior elections.

Why it matters: The ruling comes just days before the state's Oct. 24 deadline for absentee ballot applications. Deficient requests may go unfulfilled if voters are unable to correct errors or add information to their applications.

Pence to continue traveling despite aides testing positive for COVID-19

Marc Short with Pence in March. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force. Pence and second lady Karen Pence tested negative for the virus on Sunday morning, according to the vice president's office.

AOC: "Extremely important" that Biden offer Bernie Sanders a Cabinet position

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that she believes it's "extremely important" that Joe Biden offer Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressive leaders Cabinet positions if he's elected president.

The big picture: Ocasio-Cortez was pressed repeatedly on policy differences between her and the more moderate Biden, including her opposition to fracking and support for Medicare for All. She responded that it would be a "privilege" and a "luxury" to be able to lobby a Biden administration on progressive issues, insisting that the focus right now should be on winning the White House.