Ballot harvesting was a real issue in Democrat-run states, especially in California. Democrats were hiring political operatives to go door-to-door to collect voters' ballots and return them to election officials. There was a concern that these operatives were cherry-picking ballots to turn in, essentially tossing out Republican voters' ballots. It was a way to influence the election without average Americans realizing it.
The California Republican Party decided to run with the state law that made ballot harvesting legal. Unofficial ballot return boxes began springing up throughout the state – including in Fresno, Orange and Los Angeles Counties – causing multiple county election officials and state authorities to launch an investigation, Fox News reported. Churches, gun stores and other businesses reportedly had unofficial ballot boxes at their locations. The State's Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, issued a cease and desist letter to the CA GOP over the issue.
According to the Orange County Register, the issue was first brought to officials' attention when Jordan Tygh, a regional field coordinator for the California Republican Party, tweeted a photo with a ballot and an unofficial ballot box. He reportedly encouraged voters to use unofficial ballot boxes.
"Doing my part and voting early. This by far the most important congressional election I've ever voted in. I'm so proud to cast my vote for @MichelleSteelCA. DM me for convenient locations to drop your ballot off at! #CA48 #StandWithSteel #LeadRight," the tweet said.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla called the move "misleading" and illegal.
“Operating unofficial ballot drop boxes—especially those misrepresented as official drop boxes—is not just misleading to voters, it’s a violation of state law,” Padilla said in a statement. “This is also an important reminder. Voters are in control of how to return their ballot, and they have multiple safe and secure options for doing so. Ballots can be returned by mail, to any in-person voting location, or to an official secure drop box. Never hand your ballot over to someone you don’t trust.”
According to the state's GOP spokesman, Hector Barajas, Democrats are upset that their own tactics are being used against them.
"In California, we have convicted felons and individuals with a criminal history go door to door and collect ballots from voters. Democrats are now upset because organizations, individuals and groups are offering an opportunity for their friends, family, and patrons to drop off their ballot with someone they know and trust," Barajas said in a statement. "The Democrat anger is overblown when state law allows organizations, volunteers or campaign workers to collect completed ballot and drop them off at polling places or election offices."
"If Democrats are so concerned with ballot harvesting, they are the ones who wrote the legislation, voted for it, and Governor Jerry Brown signed it into law," Barajas explained. "California Republicans would be happy to do away with ballot harvesting."
Congressman Ken Calvert (R) received information from the Riverside County Registrar of Voters explaining the guidelines – which are basically nonexistent – for ballot harvesting (emphasis mine):
A vote by mail ballot collected by a ballot harvester does NOT have to include the name or signature of the harvester on the identification envelope in order to be valid.*
A ballot harvester is NOT required to document the vote by mail ballots chain of custody in any way.
A ballot harvester is NOT required to disclose to a voter who they are working on behalf of or if they are being paid to collect ballots.
A ballot harvester is NOT required to provide any kind of documentation/receipt when collecting a vote by mail ballot.
Election officials are NOT required to obtain any identifying information, including names, of ballot harvesters when they return collected ballots.
Election officials are NOT required to maintain a list of persons who collect and submit collected ballots, regardless of how many ballots they submit.
ANY individual is eligible to harvest ballots, including:
- Non-California residents
- Illegal immigrants
- Foreign nationals
ANY entity may have and compensate its employees to harvest ballots (so long as the compensation is not on a per ballot basis), including:
- Non-profit organizations
- Businesses, including corporations
- Labor unions
- Ballot harvesters may collect an unlimited number of ballots.
Campaigns may pay third party vendors to harvest ballots (so long as the compensation is not on a per ballot basis).
Election officials are not required to categorize harvested ballots or otherwise distinguish them from vote by mail ballots submitted by other means.
Ballot harvesting has been an issue for years. Republicans have sounded the alarm on the issue but it has fallen on deaf ears. It's amazing that it's okay for Democrats to do but as soon as the GOP decides to do something along those lines it's suddenly bad.
This is another example of Democrats not practicing what they preach. Let's see what their take on ballot harvesting is once this fiasco blows over. As Ellie pointed out, the Left's attempt to dunk on the GOP isn't turning out so well.