Residents in a Los Angeles community are outraged after finding an unofficial ballot drop box in front of a church. According to CBSLA, the grey metal container was seen outside of Freedom’s Way Baptist Church with a taped sign that read “Official Ballot Drop Box.”
Jerry Cook, a pastor at the church, posted a photo of the box on Facebook.
“Our church has a voting drop box in front of our complex — if you are voting early, drop your ballot on by,” he wrote.
Community members then reached out to the L.A. County Recorder/Registrar’s office.
“This is not an official vote by mail drop box and does not comply with [state] regulations for drop boxes,” the office replied.
The dropbox is now gone. But the registrar’s office hasn't been able to contact Cook. Shannon Kaehny is one of the residents who suspects ill intentions from the church, which is known for hosting a forum for Republican candidates on its website and criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as expressing anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments.
“If you believe in your candidate, there’s no reason to try to fudge with the election at all,” Kaehny told . “It’s an attack on democracy, it’s not ok, and it pissed me off.”
Another concerned resident, Matthew Judge, said the box was up for at least 4 days, possibly giving the pastor enough time to discard several ballots.
"I’m really worried that somebody put their ballot in there and that he saw it was for a certain candidate or saw whatever and just tore it up and threw it away,” Judge said.
Loyola Law Professor Jessica Levinson said the incident causes more mistrust in a time where they're trying to encourage people to trust the election.
"We’re telling people if you don’t trust the mail, then use an official ballot drop box,” Levinson said. “And now we have a church using what looks like a filing cabinet and saying it’s an official ballot drop box when it’s not. This does not do good things for people’s trust in our elections.”
According to The Guardian, mail-in voting is expected to increase this year due to concerns about the coronavirus. Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida, said mail-in votes will account for about 50% this year.
While Levinson and other advocates fight to encourage voters, Donald Trump has continued to spread fear about mail-in voting.
"Because of the new and unprecedented massive amount of unsolicited ballots which will be sent to 'voters', or wherever, this year, the Nov. 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED, which is what some want," Trump tweeted as part of his ongoing criticism of the system. "Another election disaster yesterday. Stop Ballot Madness!"
Because of the new and unprecedented massive amount of unsolicited ballots which will be sent to “voters”, or wherever, this year, the Nov 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED, which is what some want. Another election disaster yesterday. Stop Ballot Madness! https://t.co/3SMAk9TC1a
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2020
Despite the President claiming that mail-in voting favors the Democrats, a study from Stanford researchers concluded that the process doesn't give an advantage to either party.