Thinking Citizen Blog — What is “Vote Harvesting”? Is it legal? Should it be?
Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day
Today’s Topic — What is “vote harvesting”? Is it legal? Should it be?
Vote harvesting is the collection of absentee or mail-order ballots by third parties. It is a common practice by both Democrats and Republicans in many states. But it is illegal in Texas, North Carolina, and Arizona. Montana limits harvesting to 6 ballots per collector. The fear is that the practice leads to the potential for coercion and fraud. On the other hand Florida places no limits on the number of ballots that can be collected by third parties. And the Democratic House has recently passed a bill that would allow the practice nationwide. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE CASE FOR VOTE HARVESTING
1. An “act of kindness” for vulnerable populations, especially during a pandemic. (Washington Post, second link)
2. “A way to ensure voters who requested absentee ballots actually turn them in.” (ditto)
1. “Could they be motivated not to deliver the ballot once they collected it, especially if they are of a different political party than the voter?” (Washington Post, second link)
2. In North Carolina in 2018, Democrats accused Republican operatives of illegally collecting and possibly stealing absentee ballots.
3. “Suppose the door ringer explains that they can help the voter with the filling out of the ballot, and proceeds to sit with the voter in doing so. Step by step, this “helper” shows the voter which places to mark their votes, including who they should vote for. The voter might perceive this as valued assistance since perhaps they had little idea of what votes to cast and were also intimidated by the ballot form and hesitant to try and fill it out on their own. The “helper” then has the voter sign the ballot and offers to make sure it will get delivered. Is this a fraudulent act?
SHOULD IT BE LEGAL TO HAVE PAID VOTE COLLECTORS?
1. “California has since made it illegal to get paid per ballot collected and for employers to ask employees to bring their ballots into their workplace.”
2. Other states allow it.
3. Is the distinction between getting paid per ballot or per hour an important one?
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