There is a new term in our political lexicon: ballot harvesting. It is political jargon for allowing volunteers to collect absentee ballots from voters and then drop them off at an election office or polling place. The term was coined by Republicans in California as a way to suggest that this could lead to election fraud.
Ballot harvesting is legal in states like California. Proponents argue that it will make it easier and more convenient for people to vote. But stop and think about this for a moment. We are allowing a person you don’t know to come to your house to collect your ballot. You may not have filled it out until the person arrives, so he or she can even help you fill out the ballot and then take it to the election office or polling place. What could possibly go wrong with this?
Here’s another way to look at it. We are told in many TV and radio ads not to trust strangers who come to your door and try to sell you something. They may try to convince you to put on a new roof or invest in a financial scheme. We even have warnings from government officials to be careful when someone you don’t know comes to your door. But if someone you don’t know comes to collect your absentee ballot, well, that’s perfectly fine.
In California, ballot harvesting is legal. But Republicans in that state say something doesn’t seem right when 250,000 harvested ballots turned up on election day in Orange County and allowed a number of Democrat candidates to be elected in that county. Democrats and Republicans point to electoral questions arising out of North Carolina, where ballot harvesting is illegal.
This is one more example of changes in the voting laws that have been proposed to make voting easier. But the possibility of mischief is too great and a good reason to prevent other states from making ballot harvesting legal.