Disagreement Over Drop Boxes Adds To Election Conflict

Though the election is officially fifteen days away, over 29 million people across the United States have already voted, according to the U.S. Elections Project.  As the lead up to Election Day continues, though, so too does the conflict that has underlined much of this year’s election season.

This weekend, Women’s March protestors marched in DC in response to the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. As the third presidential debate—which is currently scheduled for Thursday, October 22—draws closer, President Trump has attacked the upcoming debate’s moderator, NBC Correspondent Kristen Welker.  He tweeted out, “She’s always been terrible & unfair, just like most of the Fake News reporters, but I’ll still play the game. The people know! How’s Steve Scully doing?”

C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully, who was the designated moderator of the now-cancelled second presidential debate, was placed on administrative leave when he lied about his Twitter account being hacked after a tweet of his, directed at Anthony Scaramucci, earned him accusations of bias.

Additionally, one issue that has become a recurring feature in election news lately is the disagreements over drop boxes for mail-in ballots, likely an extension of the struggle over mail-in ballots themselves, which has become a key talking point in this year’s election.

Last week, in California, which has mailed a ballot to every registered voter in the state due to the coronavirus, controversy arose when state Republicans installed unauthorized drop boxes in multiple counties.  The California Republican Party received a cease and desist order from the California Secretary of State and the California Attorney General.  The California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, reportedly told CNN that the unofficial drop boxes “don’t have a chain of custody,” nor are there “requirements or regulations for these fake drop boxes” as there are for official drop boxes. 

Spokesman for the Republican Party in California, Hector Barajas, said, also while speaking to CNN, “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.”

The state’s Republican Party has since agreed to no longer use “unstaffed, unsecured, unofficial” ballot boxes.

President Trump retweeted a Los Angeles Times article on the affair, adding, “You mean only Democrats are allowed to do this? But haven’t the Dems been doing this for years? See you in court. Fight hard Republicans!”

And this is not the first conflict over ballot boxes that has occurred this election cycle. In Pennsylvania, a judge recently rejected attempts to limit drop boxes in the state. Conflict and confusion over drop boxes have also emerged in the state of Texas, where there have been court battles over the number of ballot drop boxes permitted per county.

Early last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a ruling from a lower court that would have expanded the number of locations allowed to accept mail-in ballots, upholding a decision by Texas Governor Greg Abbott that limits ballot boxes to one per county. Then, only days later, Travis County Judge Tim Sulak ruled in favor of allowing multiple drop off locations and ballot boxes. The distinction between the two conflicting rulings, according to an article by the Texas Tribune, appears to lie in the fact that the federal appellate court’s ruling was made with respect to the federal constitution, but that this does not affect “the state courts’ resolution of these issues under the state constitution.”

However, due to the confusion and uncertainty that have understandably arisen around the situation, most counties are expected to continue following the order until the matter is resolved.

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