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Thorner: Ballot Harvesting As a Source of Voting Fraud




By Nancy Thorner - 

Ballot harvesting is the practice of allowing political operatives and others to collect voters’ ballots and turn them in en masse to polling stations.

Legalizing nationwide ballot harvesting is one battle under a larger umbrella of overall mail-in balloting.

Conservatives argue that mailing ballots to every single American is inviting rampant fraud. A Pew Research Center study shows roughly 24 million voter registrations are no longer valid.  According to Judicial Watch, there are 462 counties in America where voter registrations outnumber the amount of people who actually live in that county. Many of those jurisdictions are in key battleground states.


According to a 2019 analysis by Ballotpedia, 24 states and the District of Columbia permit someone chosen by the voter to return mail ballots on their own, with nine of those states adding some specific exceptions.

Washington State is exclusively a mail-in ballot state. Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, claims the system works just fine. But there still seems to be consensus that no matter whether you believe mail-in balloting leads to widespread fraud or not, the chances for it to occur are higher.

In 2005, both former President Jimmy Carter and James A. Baker III, secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush, signed the Commission on Federal Election Reform and concluded, “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.  

Legal challenges in Arizona and Nevada

There have been legal challenges to impose restrictions on the practice, as in Arizonawhen a federal appeals court upheld a ballot harvesting prohibition, despite a claim that it unfairly discriminated against minorities who might need help filling out their ballots.

This ruling has become a potential landmark case involving Arizona's election laws that is presently being considered for acceptance by the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS). Election Integrity Project, California (EIPCa) and Arizona (EIPAz) have joined 13 other parties in filing documents with the court (amicus curiae) in support of Arizona's petition to have SCOTUS take up the case.

If SCOTUS accepts the Arizona case, its ruling could affect ballot harvesting laws across the country. California-style ballot "harvesting" could spread across the country, compromising election integrity and further damaging voter confidence in our elections.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, however, on July 5, 2020 urged the U.S. Supreme Court to decline a request by Attorney General Mark Brnovich to defend Arizona’s ban on “ballot harvesting.” 

The Trump campaign late Tuesday, August 4th, 2020, filed a lawsuit against Nevada over a law aimed at expanding mail-in voting before the November general election, saying it and changes to election procedures make "voter fraud and other ineligible voting inevitable.”

The bill was passed along party lines and was signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak (D).  Known as A.B. 4, the legislation allows election officials to send all active registered voters a mail-in ballot for the November elections due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It will apply to other elections that may occur after a statewide emergency or disaster and will also extend the deadline for when mail-in ballots can be counted after Election Day.  Mailed-in ballots can still be counted if they arrive one week after November 3.

The legislation will also ease some restrictions for who can legally handle and submit other people's ballots — a move that Republicans claimed could lead to voter fraud.

Ballot harvesting impacts politics

Some prominent examples of ballot harvesting have already impacted national politics.

Just before the 2018 mid-term election, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB1921, which legalized the so-called practice of “ballot harvesting”.

Because of this new law, California became a pioneer in proving there had to be a problem with this new law, when election results in Orange County, CA, after allowing Ballot Harvesting, resulted in a very different election outcome from what polling had indicated before the election.  What seemed secure seats were taken by largely unknown candidates. While one or two might not ring an alarm, something is obviously wrong when almost every Republican candidate ended up losing. Orange County had voted Republican for centuries.

Previously, only a family member or someone living in the same household was permitted to drop off mail ballots for a voter, but the new allowed anyone – including political operatives – to collect and return them for a vote.

An excuse for this new law was that it would help those in nursing homes be able to vote, which made no sense.  A relative and even staff members could help a patient fill out a ballot.

Question arose as to whether such ballots even made it to the proper source, for there was no way to know if the person “gathering” destroyed ballots that differed with his/her political preference.

As Neal Kelley, the registrar for voters in Southern California’s Orange County, told Fox News: “Every House seat went to a Democrat after an unprecedented “250,000” vote-by-mail drop-offs were counted.  People were carrying in stacks of 100 and 200 of them. We had had multiple people calling to ask if these people were allowed to do this.”

Orange County Republican Chairman Fred Whitaker said the ballot harvesting “directly caused the switch from being ahead on election night to losing two weeks later.”    In Texas, Secretary of State, Ruth Hughs, has referred an official complaint alleging ballot harvesting in Harris County, Texas to the state’s Office of the Attorney General for investigation.

In referring the complaint to the OAG, Texas Director of Elections Keith Ingram notes allegations that “people with prior forgery convictions picked up large batches of ballot by mail applications for local campaigns and a number of voted ballots were marked identically.”

The original complaint was filed by Colleen Vera, a retired teacher and activist, who spent several years researching and collecting evidence on a possible vote harvesting scheme in the Houston and Harris County area.

Evidence collected by Vera includes two audio recordings made by a Democrat campaign worker who believed an opponent had used ballot harvesting techniques to sway a 2016 primary on behalf of Michel Pappillion .

Last week Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to all county judges and elections officials warning that those advising voters afraid of coronavirus to claim disability on mail ballot applications could be subject to criminal penalties.

According to Texas Election Code, it is a first-degree felony to act “with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a vote harvesting organization.” 

Granny Framing

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on senior citizen nursing homes across the country.

Democrats see ballot harvesting a way to make sure the elderly or those too busy with work are not disenfranchised from America’s electoral system.

“Granny farming” is one form of “ballot harvesting,” whereby a third party is allowed to deliver or submit a ballot on behalf of another.

In his book “ Fraud: How the Left Plans to Steal the Next Election,” author and researcher Eric Eggers details examples of how this process is carried out.

According to Eggers, one blind man in Florida testified, "No, I didn't fill out this ballot. Somebody filled it out for me against my wishes.”

Eggers told Just The News that in another case, a woman kept a notebook showing thousands of interactions describing how she’d go collect ballots from seniors and then deliver them to paid political campaigns. 

Democrats use coronavirus excuse

During the coronavirus pandemic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been pushing funding for all states to allow for mail-in balloting, including third party ballot harvesting.


The text of House bill 6379, introduced in March of 2020, says that states “shall permit a voter to designate any person to return a voted and sealed absentee ballot to the post office” and “may not put any limit on how many voted and sealed absentee ballots any designated person can return to the post office.”  

That language was eventually stripped from the first coronavirus stimulus bill after Republicans said it was a deal-breaker, but Pelosi and her colleagues say they’re determined to push it through.

On August 5, 2020, Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill told negotiators for President Trump that preserving funding for the U.S. Postal Service and removing new rules that have slowed delivery times are essential ingredients of a new coronavirus relief bill in a year when millions of Americans plan to vote by mail.   

Schumer said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told DeJoy, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, that their demands regarding the Postal Service are necessary to striking a deal on broader relief bill that may also include new unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut.
“It was a heated discussion,” Schumer said, adding that the demand is a “sine qua non for us. We told that to the postmaster.”
Postmaster Secretary DeJoy declined to take questions as he left the Capitol. Meadows suggested that Schumer is looking at the Postal Service as a “fall guy” to blame if ballots are delayed.


Voter Integrity


In national elections, successful electoral fraud can have the effect of a coup d'état, democracy protest or corruption of democracy. In a narrow election, a small amount of fraud may be enough to change the result. Even if the outcome is not affected, the revelation of fraud can reduce voters' confidence in democracy.

Because the November 2020 election will be a highly contested race for president, coupled with the desire of Democrats to take back the presidency and even the Senate at any cost, it is a given that fraud will mostly likely take place in states run by Democrats and in all major cities likewise controlled by Democrats.   

As reported by The Heritage Foundation in 2018:

The full scope of fraud in U.S. elections is unknown, and many states do not have in place the policies and procedures to detect and deter voter fraud.
If Americans cannot say with certainty that their votes will be counted, that the process is free of fraud, and the outcome is valid, what incentive do they have to turn out in the first place?
With elections, the process matters at least as much as the outcome, and Americans deserve a process they can trust.

Thorner's article, Chaos and Mass Disenfranchisement Plague Mail-in Ballot, published at Illinois Review on Wednesday, August 5, 20920. https://www.illinoisreview.com/illinoisreview/2020/08/thorner-chaos-and-mass-disenfranchisement-plague-mail-in-ballots-.html 


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