Escondido, CA

California’s easily corruptible new voting system: the fruits of ‘ballot harvesting’

Be prepared to be alarmed by a new term of art of elections: “ballot harvesting.” It could lead to the worst cases of voter fraud since they stopped voting corpses in Clark County, Illinois. 

The most astounding thing about the 2018 election from the standpoint of a California resident is the “long vote,” the interminable time that has taken to count all the votes. This is unprecedented in the modern age. It is the direct result of a new law that took effect earlier this year that could lead to the complete corruption of our state electoral system. Given the almost total one party rule in the Golden state—it will probably require the intervention of the courts to right.

If you watched the news on election night, you saw many races that appeared to be comfortably decided. Then, over the ensuing days, you saw many of them overturned. Interestingly, in no case was an election that had been comfortably trending Democratic overturned to go to a Republican. But there were lots of cases of the opposite happening. As the outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan observed in befuddlement last week: “We were only down 26 seats the night of the election and three weeks later, we lost basically every California race. This election system they have — I can’t begin to understand what ‘ballot harvesting’ is.”

Ryan added, “The way the absentee-ballot program used to work, and the way it works now, it seems pretty loosey goose. When you have candidates who win the absentee ballot vote and then lose three weeks later because of provisionals, that’s really bizarre. I just think that’s a very, very strange outcome.”

California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla was quick to jump on Ryan’s implied criticism and lashed out:  “Every eligible citizen should be able to easily register to vote … and cast their ballot and have their vote counted. That’s what’s driven the policies that are in place.”

No argument there. But do we want people who have not voted and have passed the deadline to vote, being counted because someone determines that an election  is not going the right way and that more votes are needed to nudge it the RIGHT way? 

Now, I’m not going to reason like a Democrat and claim that any election that doesn’t go the way I think it ought to, is the result of shady dealings or “Russian intervention.” But, when EVERY single close congressional race in the state is switched from GOP to Democratic in the days after the early returns, it certainly strikes me as extremely odd. Like flipping a coin and getting tails seven times in a row. 

Let’s apply a sports analogy here: suppose, as the 2 minute warning is sounded and the Patriots find that they are two points behind the Chargers (think of this as fantasy football)  the Patriots keep finding a way to add minutes to the clock. Until they jump ahead with a touchdown. Then the clock runs out. If such a thing actually happened, fans might react angrily. 

Which brings us to the term “ballot harvesting,” which is a new term that I have never seen before this year. It has a rather sinister connotation, although it is perfectly legal by California law.  The net effect of ballot harvesting is to stretch what used to be a single “election” day to weeks, when you count ballots that are allowed to come into the Registrar’s office as late as a week after the close of polls on election day—AND much more alarming, you allow anyone to pick up and deliver ballots from anyone, not just a relative, and deliver (or not deliver) them to the Registrar’s office.

Let me count the ways this could lead to fraud and stealing of elections. For instance, it’s 9 p.m. on election night and the tally shows that candidate “A” is leading over candidate “B.” So the word goes out to candidate “B” campaign to put on some speed and collect ballots from people considered likely supporters of candidate “B” but for whatever reason they may have neglected to vote. It’s past the deadline for voting, mind you, but because of this legal loophole, campaign activists can spread out and shake the tree to produce (i.e. “harvest”) new votes that under the old rules would not be counted because the voter didn’t show up to vote or mail their ballot on time.

So, it’s truly never over until it’s over—and it’s only over when the volunteers finish wheedling out every single voter and ballot that didn’t show up at the polling place when it was supposed to. What’s more, they know how the votes have been counted so far, so they know how many they need to “harvest” to run up the tally in the other direction.

California, once a bastion for sensible government and a paragon of honest elections, has entered into the realm of boss and borough politics of the likes of current Chicago and old New York City. Where the bosses invited residents over to the party hall for a beer and lunch and then told them how to vote. Or even watched over them while they voted.

I’m not claiming that a single election was overturned by this new process of voting, however I am insisting that it is as open as a sieve to corruption. Whenever the means exist to do bad, people will take advantage of it. 

At this point, Republican complaints to the contrary will accomplish nothing. The Democrats in Sacramento are firmly seated in the saddle and nothing anyone can do or say will move them.  In this instance, at least, it’s time to resort to the courts. The new California system is rotten as two-year old cheese left in a barnyard. As long as it is left unchallenged, California will remain a one party state.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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