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Orange County DA Says Ballots Dropped In Unofficial Boxes Will Be Counted

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — The investigation into unofficial ballot boxes placed throughout Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties continued Tuesday.

"We've had reports at a gun range down in south county," Neal Kelley, OC registrar of voters, said. "We've had reports at campaign offices."

Kelley said there have been reports of a half dozen to a dozen of the unofficial ballot boxes located in Orange County, with at least one in the hands of Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer's office.

But Spitzer said that his office was approaching the investigation cautiously.

"I need to make sure that if we search that box that the contents of that box don't get thrown out, because somehow we violated somebody's rights under the Fourth Amendment — search and seizure — if they claim they have an ownership interest in that box," he said. "If we end up in litigation, and it sounds like we're moving in that direction whether it's on the criminal side or the civil side, I want to be prepared for any and all potential arguments."

Over the weekend, a Republican Party regional field director working for a campaign in coastal Orange County tweeted a photo of himself posing next to one of the ballot boxes labeled official.

The Secretary of State issued a cease and desist order to the California Republican Party to remove unauthorized boxes by Thursday. According to  Kelley, the issue is that the boxes are unmanned and do not qualify under the law as legal ballot harvesting, which allows a voter to designate a person to drop off their ballot.

"I think we've made it pretty clear that these unofficial ballot drop boxes are not allowed and they are prohibited to be used for the collection of ballots that are unattended," Kelley said.

"It's really going to be very interesting, I think, from a legal perspective and a legal argument, because clearly the Republican Party is starting to make a record that its interpretation of ballot harvesting includes the ability to collect ballots from multiple sources," Spitzer said.

Orange County is urging voters to use official ballot boxes placed throughout the county, a list of which can be found online.

Both Spitzer and Kelley said the ballots that have been placed in the unofficial ballot boxes will be counted as long as the signatures match those on file.

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