California GOP Asks Gavin Newsom to Stop ‘Ballot Harvesting’ Due to Coronavirus

I voted stickers (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)
Joel Pollak / Breitbart News

The California Republican Party sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday asking that he suspend the practice of “ballot harvesting” for special elections May 12, due to the risk of personal contact during the coronavirus outbreak.

As Breitbart News has explained:

“Ballot harvesting” was legalized in California in 2016, and first used in the 2018 midterm elections. It allows anyone to drop off someone else’s mail-in ballot at a polling station. There is no process for vetting or verifying those delivering the ballots — no background checks or identification requirements. Democrats dropped hundreds of thousands of ballots off at polling stations in 2018, helping Democrats as they flipped seven Republican seats.

Ballot harvesting requires the person collecting ballots to do so directly from the people completing their ballots.

Accordingly, the California GOP has asked Newsom to stop the practice, in a letter obtained by the California Globe:

It is true that in-person voting presents risks to public health and safety in light of COVID-19. It is also true that other activities in connection with voting present the same risk (or even higher) that must be mitigated during this historic event.

As you know, Section 3017 of the Elections Code ordinarily allows a vote by mail voter to “designate any person to return the ballot to the elections official who issue the ballot” on their behalf. (Elec. Code § 3017(a)(2).)

During normal times, this may involve a stranger visiting a voter’s home and offering to return the voter’s ballot to the elections official. During these times, this activity presents an intolerable risk to public health and safety.

For the health and safety of voters in the 25th Congressional District and the 28th Senate District, and any other voters casting a ballot in the near future, we request that you make it clear that the existing Stay-at-Home Order prohibits collection of ballots by persons who do not live in the same household as the voter. At this time, this activity is a threat to the health and well-being of Californians because it violates social distancing measures and causes the exchange of a physical item that has been in a person’s household and likely contains saliva which is known to spread COVID-19. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that we will meet all six criteria you set yesterday to reopen the state by May 12th.

The special election in the 25th congressional district is being watched especially closely. Katie Hill (D) unseated Rep. Steve Knight (R) in 2018, but resigned over a sex scandal. The candidates in the special election are State Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita) and former U.S. Navy fighter pilot Mike Garcia (R). The election will be entirely by mail-in ballots.

Democrats tried to make ballot harvesting a required national institution in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s proposal for the first coronavirus relief bill. They are still trying to mandate national vote by mail and ballot harvesting in relief bills.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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