How Ballot-Harvesting Became The New Way To Steal An Election
America’s electoral obsession isn’t Russian meddling anymore. It’s ballot-harvesting, a long-disputed practice implicated in fraud that’s come to the fore with the nationwide embrace of absentee voting in recent years — and especially in last month’s midterms.
With ballot-harvesting, paper votes are collected by intermediaries who deliver them to polling officials, presumably increasing voter turnout but also creating opportunities for mischief.
The latter is suspected in North Carolina, where uncharacteristic Democratic charges of vote fraud prompted an investigation into whether Republican-paid political operatives illegally collected and possibly stole absentee ballots in a still-undecided congressional race. A national spotlight was shone by The New York Times, which, like Democrats, often minimizes vote fraud; it flooded the zone in this case, assigning five reporters to a single story.
In California, by contrast, Democrats exulted as they credited a quietly passed 2016 law legalizing ballot-harvesting with their recent sweep of House seats in the former Republican stronghold of Orange County, thereby helping them win control of the House. In that case, it was Republican eyebrows that were arched. House Speaker Paul Ryan said what happened in California “defies logic.”
In Orange County, an estimated 250,000 harvested ballots were reportedly dropped off on Election Day alone. County Republican Chairman Fred Whitaker claimed the 2016 law “directly caused the switch from being ahead on election night to losing two weeks later.”
One interaction caught by a Santa Clarita family’s doorbell camera suggested how harvesting can work in practice. A harvester, identifying herself as Lulu, asks for Brandi, and says she is there to collect her ballot, explaining that there is “this new service, but only to, like, people who are supporting the Democratic Party.”
However, there is no evidence that ballots were marked or discarded by those harvesting the ballots, as is alleged in North Carolina.