Ballot-harvesting California muscles to the front of 2020 presidential primaries
See also: "The unspoken fear of Democrats about moving the California primary to March"; "California's new early primary makes money, not retail politics, the key to picking a presidential nominee"
Claiming that it wants its votes counted first for a change, ballot-harvesting California has decided to muscle into the forefront of the 2020 presidential primaries, in order to have its votes counted first. And early-primary states, such as New Hampshire, are alarmed, according to this long, interesting piece by Politico's Natasha Korecki:
California's newly instituted March 3 primary date is rattling the early presidential state map, as Democratic state and party officials grapple with the shadow cast by the nation's most populous state.
The idea that millions of absentee and mail-in votes could be cast in advance of California's actual primary election day – and the prospect that presidential candidates might bypass the early states entirely to concentrate on target-rich California – is finally beginning to sink in.
It shows what a muscular hardball game California is playing in attempting to foist itself and its political ways onto the national stage.
On the one hand, writing as a Californian, I am not that unhappy about this rousing of the giant California bear, given that states with very small populations in areas weakly connected to the rest of the country have such an outsized influence on the elections, and it's become a monopoly for them. Do I enjoy Republican candidates stating their great fealty to ethanol funding and other things beloved of Iowa's corn lobby? No, I don't. I am a free marketer, and I don't think this kind of pork is a national interest. Yet we see it all the time, due to the outsized influence of Iowa on the elections. Worse still, the winnowing system of early primaries always left California with scraps to choose from. In 2012, I got stuck with just Mitt Romney on the primary ticket. I would have been delighted to vote for Herman Cain, Rick Perry, or Newt Gingrich, all of whom campaigned in earlier states but were out by the time California came around. Combine it with the fact that I live in a state that always goes blue, and I get the sense that my vote doesn't count anymore, neither in the primaries nor in the general.
California is just doing what the early states are doing, which is setting their primary early. If one state can do it, they all can, and soon enough, they all will, even-steven, with no more primaries spread out. What that's going to do is entice all states to set their primaries early, given the perceived "narrative" advantage. There's also an advantage to being a late state if the primary is close, but California is choosing the advantages of "early," which could set the political narrative to a lot more heinous stuff than just ethanol funding. The green lobby and open borders advocates are salivating. The other voters in down-primary states may also react to whatever horror California may choose, but only if the early candidates are not all shaken out. What would be fair is a rotating primary system for a set set of date slots – sometimes a small state gets first dibs, sometimes a large state.
The whole primary system, premised on electoral college votes, was designed to make each state matter and force candidates to pay attention to the votes in every state. I recall reading as a schoolkid that New Jersey didn't want to enter the union otherwise, given that New York would get all the attention at election time and squash the value of any New Jersey votes. The Electoral College system was a bid to placate that concern. California's muscle-in to set the "narrative" is more of a propaganda war move than an actual end to the votes of small states, given that the electoral college has not been abolished, but rest assured: California's Democrats have that on their list, too. So you can see that California's muscle-in is creepy.
The move does have an Achilles heel: the state is oh, so fond of ballot-harvesting, a borrowing from Mexico's nasty style of patronage politics, which is illegal in most states. California's secretary of state, Alex Padilla, presides over a system in which Democratic operatives go house to house, collecting mail-in ballots in Democrat-registered or independent-registered households that many voters never asked for, "helping" indifferent voters fill those kitchen-table ballots in, and then taking those ballots to the poll-counters. They collect only the Democratic ballots on those kitchen tables and leave the Republican ones behind. In the last midterm, they used this system to keep turning in ballots until they got the result they wanted, flipping all of conservative Orange County's seats blue, including those of precincts where Republicans had been winning on election night. Everything, see, comes down to the ballot harvest, and they will take all the time they can to..."count all the votes," as they say.
That could mean that if California's central planners don't get the result they want in an early primary, they could just keep harvesting, and harvesting, until they do. This would make California not such an early state primary, after all. The Politico piece notes that near the bottom.
For California Republicans, that will be an interesting thing. Most likely, the counters will count the ballots quickly this time, given the likelihood that only the most extreme Democrats will vote in the primary without prompting and get the extreme result they want. The Republicans they won't care too much about, but the Republicans will matter, too. That fast count, done in the name of setting the agenda, will stand in stark contrast to the slow count of the midterm – and, undoubtedly, the general election in 2020.
The manipulation of the vote will be obvious enough to everyone. Funny how they count votes fast in California during the primary time and count votes slow in the general. Perhaps it will bring some momentum to a much needed move to end ballot-harvesting in all 50 states.