Politics

Congressional Democrats Want To Make Ballot Harvesting The National Standard, Regardless Of What States Want

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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The House of Representatives is set to vote on a proposal that would change federal elections forever by making it similar to the process in 2020.

“To expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and implement other anti-corruption measures for the purposes of fortifying our democracy, and for other purposes,” the introduction to the Bill reads.

H.R. 1, also known as For The People Act and introduced in early January, would scrap long-standing voting practices and rules and replace them with a federal blanket of new provisions.

The bill would allow for ballot harvesting and prevent states from limiting how many ballots “any designated person can return to the post office” or any other ballot drop-off facility.

During the 2018 midterm elections, six California Republican candidates looked like shoe-in’s for their seats as polls closed. Throughout the following weeks after Election Day, all six candidates lost their seats to Democrats as absentee and provisional ballots rolled in.

While there wasn’t just one reason for these seemingly unique losses, ballot harvesting was one of the main causes, according to former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

“California just defies logic to me,” Ryan said at a Washington Post live event. “We were only down 26 seats the night of the election, and three weeks later, we lost basically every California contested race. This election system they have – I can’t begin to understand what ‘ballot harvesting’ is.”

Then-Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed California’s AB 1921 in 2016 that allowed voters to give their ballot to any third party to turn in. (RELATED: RNC To Create An Election Integrity Committee)

In Orange County alone, 250,000 ballots that were harvested were used to deliver a Democratic sweep, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Katie Merrill, a Democratic consultant, told the outlet that “many of the field plans included (ballot harvesting) as an option to deliver voters or their ballots” to polling locations. Part of the process was identifying voters who were likely to support Democratic candidates and ignoring voters who were likely to support others, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

“We were not wasting time talking to people who weren’t going to vote for Democrats,” Merrill said, according to the report.

The bill was met with pushback, with some saying ballot harvesting would lead to voter coercion, forgery and fraudulent ballots.

Former Democratic Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called for a bipartisan bill in September to ban ballot harvesting “so no one can exploit our sacred right to vote.”

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced charges in October against four people, including a county commissioner, for allegedly engaging in a ballot harvesting scheme during the 2018 Democratic primary.

Gregg County Commissioner Shannon Brown and three others allegedly “targeted young, able-bodied voters to cast ballots by mail by fraudulently claiming the voters were ‘disabled,’ in most cases without the voters’ knowledge or consent,” as part of a harvesting scheme to swing the primary in Brown’s favor.

“It is an unfortunate reality that elections can be stolen outright by mail ballot fraud,” Paxton said in a statement. “Mail ballots are vulnerable to diversion, coercion, and influence by organized vote harvesting schemes.”

California officials were also forced to launch an investigation into unofficial mail-in voting drop boxes found across several counties in October.

A regional field director for the California Republican Party allegedly encouraged people to message him for “convenient locations” to drop their ballots off at, according to The Orange County Register.

California Republican Party spokesman Hector Barajas said the outrage was “overblown” in a statement to the Daily Caller.

“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. “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.”

“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. California Republicans would be happy to do away with ballot harvesting,” he continued.