'Ballot-harvesting' burns Democrats in North Carolina

Is 'ballot-harvesting,' finally about to get discredited?

Seems the slimey practice of dispatching political operatives to "collect" ballots from voters as a "service" to them, and, umm, turn them in to electoral authorities for them, with no chain of custody, may just be finally exposed as the recipe for fraud that it is.

That's because this time, a Democrat's ox was gored, not a Republican's.

It certainly seems the case in North Carolina, where a GOP operative in the state's 9th district seems to have gone ballot-harvesting, flipping Democrat Dan McCready's congressional seat red. Republican Mike Harris officially won that election, but in the wake of new ballot-harvesting allegations, McCready has "withdrawn" his concession.

Here's what the Associated Press is reporting:

An investigation into whether political operatives in North Carolina illegally collected and possibly stole absentee ballots in a still-undecided congressional race has drawn attention to a widespread but little-known political tool called ballot harvesting.

It's a practice long used by special-interest groups and both major political parties that is viewed either as a voter service that boosts turnout or a nefarious activity that subjects voters to intimidation and makes elections vulnerable to fraud.

The groups rely on data showing which voters requested absentee ballots but have not turned them in. They then go door-to-door and offer to collect and turn in those ballots for the voters — often dozens or hundreds at a time. Some place ballot-collection boxes in high-concentration voter areas, such as college campuses, and take the ballots to election offices when the boxes are full.

In North Carolina, election officials are investigating whether Republican political operatives in parts of the 9th Congressional District harvested ballots from minority voters and didn't deliver them to the election offices. In some cases they are accused of harvesting ballots that were not sealed and only partially filled out. Ballot harvesting is illegal under state law, which allows only a family member or legal guardian to drop off absentee ballots for a voter.

Well gee, harvested the ballots and ... didn't turn them in. That couldn't happen in California, could it?

Ballot-harvesting is illegal in North Carolina, as it should be, but someone did it. Good thing he's being busted. But out in California, by contrast, it's openly legal in California and it's being done, too, flipping Reagan Country Orange County a solid monolithic blue as ballots and ballots kept arriving well after the polls closed.

Both the San Francisco Chronicle's and the Los Angeles Times' editorial boards have praised this harvest as wonderful stuff, a thing to be emulated, claiming it to be proof that voters don't like President Trump. California's Secretary of State Alex Padilla has praised it as "inclusive and accessible democracy.' And Democrats have made the harvest a slogan of sorts, calling it 'count all the votes.'

It's a revolting practice, with amazing doors to corruption as the North Carolina instance seems to show, and it has finally burned the Democrats.

That opens the door to getting rid of it, even in California, as public pressure is sure to build.

Already there is pressure, with the Los Angeles Times starting to backtrack on its praise of the measure. It qualifies that, by insisting that Democrats would never dream of cheating as the fellow in North Carolina seems to have done, despite the easy incentives it presents, and that harvesting or not, the Orange County results were a fair reflection on the will of the voters, the majority of whom reject Trump as much as they do. But still!  They think, maybe just for insurance or something, that the practice be confined to ten harvests per political operative instead of the unlimited stuffing going on now. Lots of operatives, of course, can get around that.

It's weasel stuff, but a sign of trouble on the horizon. Word is getting out, and Republicans will be playing the same game as hard and dirty as Democrats in the next election. What a lovely thing elections will soon become, with everyone getting to know their local ballot harvester so very well.

I don't know if ending the ballot harvests can ever reverse the hideous results of the Orange County midterm fiasco, but I hope it will give Orange County voters the wherewithal to raise hell with the Democrats who questionably won these races. The pressure should be on, especially for the newly minted Democratic congressmembers never would have won otherwise. Maybe the voters can persuade them or the new Democratic Congress as a whole to vote to outlaw the practice nationally. It's more likely, though, that Democrats will do nothing, and cite the North Carolina case as illegality and evidence of Republican lawlessness. Democrats, however, are doing the same thing legally in California (Joel Pollak has an excellent piece highlighting the hypocrisy) and getting away with it. That's where the trouble is, and a standing opportunity for Republicans to drive home the issue to force the end of the practice once and for all. It's worth losing the North Carolina seat if California can be cleaned up.

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