Ballot Collection Background
In its simplest form, Third Party Return of Voted Ballots, a.k.a ballot collection, is the collection of absentee and mail-in ballots by another individual, not a member of the voter's household. The collector is then responsible to deliver the collected ballots to county election offices or voting centers before the close of voting on Election Day.
The original intent of the ballot collections was to provide a vehicle to permit those unable to vote in person or lacked confidence in the mail-in process to submit their vote. Balloting collection was signed into law by Jerry Brown in 2016 and first used during the 2018 Mid-term Election.
Ballot collection is one of several, on-going, recommendations made by the Future of California Elections (FoCE) that have been enacted into law to streamline and modernize the election process in California. FoCE is represented as a non-partisan, nonprofit organization, more information is available at Future of California Elections.
Ballot Collection Concerns and Weaknesses
What has happened in many cases is the collectors represent a political party or group that has an agenda and the process is tainted. Ballot collection has been "credited" with the election of Democrat representatives in districts previously held by Republicans in both state and federal elections. This swing in votes earned ballot collection the nickname "Ballot Harvesting."
Integrity issues with the process:
Lack of Security: Documentation is not required about who is collecting ballots or whether voting is conducted in private without outside influence or intimidation. Furthermore, there is no guarantee the registered voter has completed the ballot themselves; there is only a signature on the outside of the ballot envelope certifying the validity of the ballot -- which is often certified by unqualified, temporary workers at the Election Office.
No Chain of Custody: There is no accounting for whether collected ballots are delivered to the Election Office. It is easy for voter histories to be researched. Politically motivated collectors can discard ballots they deem to be adverse to their political objectives.
Geographic Corruption and Untimely Counting: Ballots can be dropped off in other counties other than where the voters are registered. Additionally, the counties receiving the ballots have an 8-day period to transfer the ballots to the appropriate county. This election procedure could result in ballot stuffing to effect the outcome of close elections.
Recommendations to Avoid Ballot Collection Voting Fraud
Ensuring that votes are properly cast requires the help of many volunteers. To combat abuse, each Republican county party needs to:
- Confirm what voters actually reside in each precinct to ensure only registered voters are counted;
- Station observers at Polling Places and Election Offices to ensure proper ballot handling and signature certification is conducted; and,
- If you allow your ballot to be collected, ensure you know the collector and are certain they will properly deliver your ballot.
Your help is urgently needed
Yolo County Republicans can sign-up to volunteer to help with these efforts by clicking on this link for the Yolo County Voting Integrity Project