What They're Saying on Committee Republicans' Report: Political Weaponization of Ballot Harvesting in California

May 14, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – This morning, Committee on House Administration Republicans released a report that examines the use of ballot harvesting – when any individual can pick up any voter’s ballot for any reason and deliver it to the polling location completely unchecked – in the 2018 midterm congressional elections. House Democrats are now taking advantage of a national emergency to nationalize ballot harvesting in their political wish list, the HEROES Act. See what key election administrators and policy leaders are saying about our report on eliminating perhaps one of the greatest threats to elections: ballot harvesting. 

Secretaries of State: 

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said, “When voters cast their ballot, they need to have the utmost confidence that their vote will count. That’s why Ohio has banned ballot harvesting for decades. Legalizing ballot harvesting would open a pandora’s box, compromise election security, and diminish voters’ confidence in our elections.”

“Ballot harvesting undermines public confidence in election integrity," said Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin. "In Louisiana, we have proposed legislation that would limit ballot harvesting in our state and I applaud Congressman Davis for introducing a measure to reduce this practice at the national level.”

Election Assistance Commission (EAC):

"Ballot security is extremely important to election integrity," said Christy McCormick, EAC Commissioner. "Without safeguards to ensure an appropriate chain of custody, not only does a voter risk disenfranchisement in his or her individual choices, but overall confidence in elections is eroded. "

"To build confidence in elections and the integrity of the absentee or mail voting process, legislators should consider security measures to protect the elderly and unaware citizens from becoming victims of third party collection and transportation of mail ballots outside government trusted sources," said Don Palmer, EAC Commissioner. 

Key Leaders on Election Policy: 

“The integrity of mail-in balloting depends upon a secure chain of custody between voter and election official. The California model of unlimited ballot harvesting breaks the links in this chain, which invites fraud.  Any congressional attempt to impose this ballot collection scheme on the rest of the country should be strongly opposed, " said by Matthew Petersen, former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission and Partner at Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC; and Gineen Bresso, former Chairwoman of the Election Assistance Commission and Of Counsel at Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC  

"The biggest vulnerabilities in our election are voting behind closed doors, and reliance on the Postal Service to delivery ballots to the right place.  Ballot harvesters thrive in an environment where elections are put in the hands of the Post Office and where voting takes place where the public cannot see it.  Ballot harvesters prey on the most powerless and economically vulnerable in these circumstances," said J. Christian Adams, President, Public Interest Legal Foundation.

“House Democrats disregard for essential safeguards in ballot collection reveals that ballot harvesting has nothing to do with easing access to the ballot box. Unrestricted ballot harvesting is and always has been about creating opportunity for partisan operatives to game the system," said Chris Winkelman, Former General Counsel of the NRCC and Partner at Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC "The House Administration Republicans’ report highlights the real danger to the credibility of American elections if federal mandates are employed to nationalize legal ballot harvesting.”

“By permitting ballot harvesting with no safeguards, with the obvious motive of benefiting Democratic candidates, California has dangerously undermined both the actual integrity of its elections and voter confidence in its election outcomes," said Harmeet K. Dhillon, Co-Chair, Republican National Lawyers Association. "Everyone now recognizes that the California election system can be and is manipulated by political operatives.  Having won due to ballot harvesting in California, Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi and Marc Elias are now seeking to take these harmful practices nationwide through litigation and overreaching legislation.” 

"Ballot harvesting is an open invitation to voter fraud and allowed Democrats to steal seven California House seats in the 2018 midterms," said Grover Norquist, Founder and President of Americans for Tax Reform. "This important report shows that Democrats have repeatedly refused to work with Republicans to secure our elections. Going forward, it is crucial that Congress reduce this threat in order to uphold our electoral integrity.”

"It is vital that Americans have confidence in our election systems and outcomes, and ballot harvesting not only decreases confidence but also undermines the integrity of elections," said Thomas Spencer, Vice President, Lawyers Democracy Fund. "It presents the opportunity for fraud and voter coercion, often harming vulnerable voting populations the most.  Instead of expanding ballot harvesting in response to the current pandemic, legislators and election officials should be trying to increase voters' confidence in our election systems during this difficult time.”

“Ballot harvesting should not be a partisan issue, but unfortunately in Washington, it has become one.  Both “blue states” and “red states” across the country have enacted commonsense restrictions on ballot harvesting.  Campaign finance laws have been enacted and upheld by courts merely on the basis that they prevent the “appearance” of corruption.  But when it comes to the process of voting itself, ballot harvesting not only creates the appearance of voter fraud, it has resulted in actual election fraud.  Yet, there is not the same universal concern – as there should be – for addressing this practice that severely threatens the integrity of our elections," said Eric Wang, Election Law Attorney.

“Ballot harvesting has gone unchecked in California for too long. The report produced by the House Administration Committee Republicans highlights the political weaponization of an election practice that threatens the integrity of our ballots, and, frankly, the safety of voters during a global pandemic," said Jessica Furst Johnson, Former Deputy Executive Director of the NRCC and Partner at Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC. "I commend their efforts to put a stop to the dangerous practice of ballot harvesting, and hope Democrats are willing to put safety and security before partisanship.”


Background:
Click here to view the report. 
Click here for a document summarizing the report. 

The Committee on House Administration and its Subcommittee on Elections are responsible for all matters related to election law and are charged with investigating election irregularities. The Committee Republicans have worked over the last 18 months to bring awareness to potentially the greatest threat to ballot integrity in this country: ballot harvesting. Our goal remains to prevent this practice, which jeopardizes the integrity of our electoral process and disenfranchises voters.

Visit the Committee on House Administration Republicans Website for more information
 

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116th Congress