Plenty of splashy headlines are being written about so-called “ballot harvesting” without political insiders taking the time to explain how it works and why it’s a corrupt practice. If everyday Americans are going to be able to make informed decisions about ballot harvesting and those who engage in it, this is what you need to know.
In its simplest form, the practice involves third parties collecting ballots and shepherding them to polling stations. On the surface, this seems like a kindly service that would help those who cannot travel on Election Day to ensure their vote gets counted.
A 2019 study indicates that nearly half of the states allow a voter to select someone to deliver their ballot. The inherent problem stems from political operatives soliciting voters to provide this service. Once that ballot is placed in the hands of a politically-biased individual, it can be altered or discarded should it favor opposition candidates. In cases such as these, the individual who takes control of someone else’s vote becomes a “harvester,” not a friend.
In 2018, ballot harvesting helped Democrats seize more political control in California. Reports of an unprecedented number of votes being hand-delivered by harvesters changed the political landscape in Orange County, which was largely considered a GOP stronghold. The San Francisco Chronicle reported upwards of 250,000 ballots were harvested. Reports indicate that third party political operatives arrived at polls carrying as many as 200 ballots at a time.
Orange County Republican Chairman Fred Whitaker reportedly said ballot harvesting “directly caused the switch from being ahead on election night to losing two weeks later.”
This is precisely what Democrats are planning to do in the upcoming election as well. Recent investigations in states not run by Democrats have proven fruitful. In Texas, law enforcement arrested four political activists for ballot harvesting during the 2018 Democratic primary. If convicted of the 134 felony charges, the accused face 99 years in prison.
“It is an unfortunate reality that elections can be stolen outright by mail ballot fraud. Election fraud, particularly an organized mail ballot fraud scheme orchestrated by political operatives, is an affront to democracy and results in voter disenfranchisement and corruption at the highest level,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “Mail ballots are vulnerable to diversion, coercion, and influence by organized vote harvesting schemes.”
Among the high-profile controversies regarding ballot harvesting, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar has been reportedly implicated in Project Veritas uncover video. According to Project Veritas and other reports, the radical Democrat and known anti-Semite deploys hundreds of operatives to harvest ballots to support her political success.
“You can see my car is full. All these here are absentee ballots. Can’t you see? Look at all these; my car is full,” operative Liban Mohamed reportedly brags in the Project Veritas video.
Even Democrats could not shy away from the disgraceful manipulation of mail-in ballots. Hawaiian Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who ran in the Democrat primary for president, called on members of Congress to pass legislation ending the practice.
“Project Veritas offers further evidence of the need to ban ballot harvesting,” Rep. Gabbard reportedly said. “It’s not a partisan issue. It’s been abused to help both R & D candidates, including in North Carolina and California. It is important to remember that the strength of our democracy lies in the integrity of our elections, that every one of us has to have faith that our vote will count.”
President Donald Trump has gone on the record denouncing ballot harvesting, and called for the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the allegations raised by Project Veritas.