Judge denies AG request to expedite lawsuit against GOP

California Connection

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California judge has denied Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s request to expedite his lawsuit against the state Republican Party.

California Republicans have been collecting ballots from voters in unofficial ballot drop boxes placed in some counties with closely contested U.S. House races.

Becerra is investigating to see if these drop boxes comply with state law. Last week, he ordered the party to disclose the location of each drop box and to hand over the names, addresses and dates of birth of every voter who has used one. Republicans refused, and on Tuesday Becerra asked a judge to make them comply.

Wednesday, Becerra’s office asked Sacramento Superior Court Judge David Brown to expedite the case. Brown rejected the request, according to a court document, ruling the Attorney General’s office had not shown “immediate harm or irreparable injury on the facts presented.”

The ruling means the case can still go forward, but it’s not likely to be resolved before Election Day. California Republican Party spokesman Hector Barajas said it was a victory for the GOP, which “will continue to help Californians vote safely and securely by continuing to gather ballots in trusted places.”

Becerra’s office wrote in an email to the Associated Press that they are “reviewing the matter” and “will continue to take steps — including in court where necessary — to ensure that every voter who casts their ballot will have their voices heard.”

California mailed ballots to every active registered voter this year. The goal is to encourage people to vote remotely instead of casting ballots in person where they risk contracting or spreading the coronavirus.

Once a voter has completed a ballot, anyone can return it to the county elections office. Most people mail them. But political parties often organize to collect ballots from supporters and return them, a practice known as “ballot harvesting” that is banned in some states but legal in California.

Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla, both Democrats, have said the ballot boxes are illegal because the law only allows county elections officials to set up ballot drop boxes. But Republicans say they are following the law.

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