Former Clinton Campaign Attorney Marc Elias: U.S. Needs Vote-by-Mail, Ballot Harvesting, ‘Vote-Anywhere’ Rules

Attorney Marc E. Elias makes an argument during a hearing on Mark E. Harris v. NC State Board of Elections in Superior Court in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. A North Carolina judge is considering a demand to order the victory of the Republican in the country's last undecided …
Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP, Pool

Marc Elias, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign attorney, is hoping to use the coronavirus pandemic to push major changes to the way Americans vote in U.S. elections, proposing mail-in voting, ballot harvesting, “vote-anywhere” rules, and curbside voting.

Elias, the 2016 Clinton campaign attorney and “election expert” who, through his law firm Perkins Coie, “retained Fusion GPS to conduct the firm’s anti-Trump work on behalf of both Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the DNC,” has, in many ways, spearheaded the progressive push for changes to U.S. voting methods. Attempting to use the coronavirus pandemic as a catalyst, Elias over the weekend outlined a list of changes he believes the U.S. needs to make to “fix” voting rules ahead of November’s elections:

“The uncertainties caused by COVID-19 have led a number of states to examine and adjust the rules for the November elections. Thus far, most of the planning has focused on how states will handle the predicted demand for voting by mail,” Elias wrote in a piece for The Atlantic.

“There is no question that voting by mail is an important part of the solution. It mitigates the problems of long lines and fosters social distancing. But the specific rules used to implement vote by mail may determine whose vote is counted and whose is not,” he continued, listing four mail-in voting “safeguards,” including free or prepaid postage and the ability of “community organizations” to “help collect and deliver voted, sealed ballots.”

A lack of community organizations “assisting” with the collection and delivery of ballots, he argued, effectively serves as a “disadvantage” to minority voters.

Mail-in, however, is not his only solution. He believes in-person voting should still be available, albeit with a series of additions.

“Some voters—and in particular many minority voters—strongly prefer voting in person, either because of historical mistrust in the vote-by-mail system or because of the expressive nature of showing up at the polls,” he said.

Elias said states should “guarantee” adequate staffing at polling locations by offering course credit and pay to high school and college students, as well as provide government employees with overtime pay for working Election Day. He also believes curbside voting — where the voter remains in his or her vehicle throughout the entire voting process — should be extended to voters of all ages. Additionally, Elias called for weekend voting, the addition of “vote-anywhere rules,” and voting reservations:

Voters who show up at the wrong polling location should be allowed to vote a ballot for those offices for which they are eligible. Some states currently allow this, but others force these voters to cast a provisional ballot that, more often than not, doesn’t count.

Finally, states should develop systems that allow voters to sign up to reserve a time to vote during off-peak hours. Such a system would reduce lines by incentivizing voters to show up during non-peak times.

“The goal should be to avoid letting the rules dictate who wins based on whose voters can participate,” he said. “Only by taking these steps can we be assured that the rules of the election won’t unfairly tilt the playing field.”

Clinton, who has recently called for voting by mail to be the “norm going forward,” has emphatically touted Elias’s proposals.

“States must take concrete steps now to make sure every citizen can be heard in November, no matter where we are by then in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said on Sunday:

Elias is among those on the left who has sought voting rule changes in the courts rather than taking the proposals to the electorate, as voters, more often than not, support basic checks and balances on elections, including the highly contested existence of voter ID laws.

“He [Elias] was very strategic about it, very intentional abut seeding cases where he knew he was going to need to some ebb and flow,” True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht told Breitbart News last week.

“And now he is all over the airwaves talking about the coming mail-in ballot for November and the advent of voter harvesting and how that will work broadly,” she continued.

Engelbrecht added that Elias is effectively feeding the narrative to “hundreds of other groups that then take that and continue to push it.”

Certainly, Democrat leadership is eagerly driving the narrative as well. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in her failed attempt to hijack the Stage 3 bill emergency coronavirus relief bill, attempted to issue a variety of voting changes, including mail-in voting and ballot harvesting. She has since sent mixed signals on the next stage of relief, affirming support for a bipartisan bill “very much like the bill we just passed” but later declaring vote-by-mail “essential to protecting the future of our democracy as we confront this public health crisis.”

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