SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. -- UPDATE: Recent reports of unofficial ballot drop boxes locally prompted an alert Thursday from Santa Barbara County Elections.
This comes more than a week following controversy over unauthorized ballot boxes installed in areas of Orange and Riverside Counties.
“We were contacted by the Republican party in Santa Barbara County saying that they were going to place drop boxes throughout the county and we told them not to,” said Joe Holland, Santa Barbara County Registrar of Voters.
NewsChannel 3 also reached out to Bobbi McGinnis, Chairwoman for the Santa Barbara GOP.
“I’d just like to let the public know that we did not put ballot boxes out to various churches. We actually looked into doing it and found out, and asked the Santa Barbara Elections Office if it was ok and they frowned on it,” McGinnis said. “So therefore, we kind of backed away because if they didn’t ok it, the churches backed away as well.”
Holland stated that unauthorized, non-official ballot drop boxes are illegal and prohibited by state law.
He pointed to key markings on the official drop box outside Elections headquarters off Calle Real and said voters should look for those when dropping off their ballots.
“You can see here it says Official Ballot Drop Box and it's got the county ensignia there, county emblem. So, this is how you know it's an official Drop Box. And I'd like to point out there's a slot only big enough for one ballot.”
McGinnis said the GOP effort originated as a “community service” following national talk of alleged voter fraud and mounting concern.
She said instead, the local group gave an Elections official a list of local churches willing to house a ballot drop box. She mentioned Southcoast on Cathedral Oaks Road as one example and said not all of their spots were selected.
"The reason we were trying to do it was when we heard the county was only going to have 35 locations and that all the people who were, everyone who was being sent a mail-in ballot, we thought it would be helpful to have locations they trusted."
Holland estimated more than 56,000 mail-in ballots had come into the Santa Barbara County Elections Office by Thursday afternoon. He said that’s roughly three times the number of ballots received during the Presidential Primary Election back in March.
ORIGINAL STORY: Santa Barbara County Elections is urging county residents to submit their ballots into the official county election ballot drop boxes.
This comes after recent reports of groups promoting unofficial ballot drop boxes that are not affiliated with Santa Barbara County Elections.
These unofficial ballot drop boxes are promoted as "official" or "secure" but they are prohibited by state law.
The County urges voters to return their ballots to only use the official county drop boxes that are clearly recognizable, designed to meet state standards for security and bear the official Santa Barbara County Elections logo.
County Elections installed 30 secure ballot drop boxes throughout the county to assist voters in the safe and secure return of their voted ballot directly to the Elections office.
Each of the official 35 polling place locations will be open starting on October 31 to Election Day.
There will be a ballot reception station located outside the polling place entrance to provide another safe option for voters to return their ballot.
To see an image of each of the 30 official Santa Barbara County Elections drop boxes by clicking here.
If anyone has seen unofficial ballot drop off boxes, they are urged to call 800-722-8683.