California Democrats “stole” the midterm election using a new method that is illegal elsewhere but completely legal in the Golden State: a practice called “ballot harvesting,” which allows third parties to submit mail-in ballots for voters.
It sounds “bizarre,” as outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) described it to the Washington Post on Thursday — but it is absolutely true: Democratic operatives handed in pile after pile of other people’s ballots.
And Demorats are proud of it, mocking Republicans for failing to take advantage of a new law signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2016, over GOP objections, that allows “ballot harvesting,” and which some Republicans are now blaming for their defeat.
The practice explains several mysteries about the 2018 election, such as: why mail-in ballots caused massive shifts toward Democrats in races Republicans thought they won on Election Night; why Republicans won the turnout battle in the primary, but lost it in the general election; and why Democrats with party backing defeated fellow Democrats without it — even when the latter had more money.
“Ballot harvesting” by Democratic Party operatives — a surprise tactic they likely saved for the general election — appears to have made the difference. The San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday that Democrats ran a disciplined, door-to-door campaign offering to deliver voters’ ballots to the polls:
Few people noticed when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the changes in AB1921 into law two years ago. In the past, California allowed only relatives or people living in the same household to drop off mail ballots for another voter. The new law allowed anyone, even a paid political campaign worker, to collect and return ballots — “harvesting” them, in political slang.
In Orange County alone, where every House seat went Democratic, “the number of Election Day vote-by-mail dropoffs was unprecedented — over 250,000,” Fred Whitaker, chairman of the county Republican Party, said in a note to supporters. “This is a direct result of ballot harvesting allowed under California law for the first time. That directly caused the switch from being ahead on election night to losing two weeks later.”
For Democrats, the ballot harvesting was all part of a greater effort to get out the vote from their supporters, particularly from occasional voters.
“We beat Republicans on the ground, fair and square,” said Katie Merrill, a Democratic consultant deeply involved in November campaigns. “Many of the field plans included (ballot harvesting) as an option to deliver voters or their ballots” to the polls.
Republicans, in contrast, simply focused on traditional turnout operations — and lost badly.
In the days after the election, some Republicans speculated that there had been “voter fraud” in the state. And, true, Los Angeles County prosecutors busted a ring that bribed the homeless to register fraudulently. The Department of Motor Vehicles also registered 1,500 ineligible voters.
Yet “ballot harvesting” likely had a bigger effect.
Democrat Secretary of State Alex Padilla mocked Republican concerns, telling Politico: “What they call strange and bizarre, we call democracy.”
But it is democracy as practiced almost nowhere else in the world — except for one-party banana republics in failed third-world states, where the sight of ruling party apparatchiks dropping off bundles of ballots is not unusual.
Eric Eggers, author of Fraud: How the Left Plans to Steal the Next Election, told Breitbart News Tonight on Thursday that “ballot harvesting” also creates opportunities for coercion and bribery. Nevertheless, it is legal.
And as Shawn Steel, the California committeeman for the Republican National Committee (RNC), wrote on Wednesday, it is not necessary for Democrats to break the law when fraud has effectively been legalized, through “ballot harvesting” and other methods.
“Merciless and unsparing, California Democrats have systematically undermined California’s already-weak voter protection laws to guarantee permanent one-party rule,” he said.
But as Democrats point out, there is no reason that Republicans cannot use the same methods in California. So Republicans should take them up on it. There is no alternative.
But she lost the House. If she hopes to succeed in 2020, she had better learn to steal elections legally — just like the Democrats do.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.