Notes from Harvesting Democratic Votes, Dr. Linda Johnston, M.D.

(WSJ editorial board Jan 19, 2019)

In the past few years, a disturbing trend has emerged in our country’s voting systems. Under the guise of helping making voting easier for the allegedly disenfranchised or the excessively busy, more and more changes are being made that undermine the integrity and reliability of the electoral process. With each change, there is less accountability and greater potential for fraud and corruption.

As it stands now, it is possible in some states to be automatically registered, have your ballot automatically mailed to you and have people come by your home to pick up your ballot and even help you fill it out. With this system, it can happen that there is not single moment in which people have to bestir themselves from their usual activities to vote. Not only does this effortlessness devalue the importance of voting, it also removes the citizen from the very act of participation in self-government. Without having to think about voting one does not have to think about what is being voted for.

The following is a list of current voting practices that should be worrisome to all who value honesty and integrity of every single legitimate vote and voter.

1 – Jungle Primary

           By removing the party designation from candidates, one of the most important pieces of easily accessible information about a candidate is missing. Marginally involved or low-information voters who relied on the “D” or “R” to make their decisions have no idea whom to vote for.

2 – Automatic Voter Registration

           Registering people automatically bypasses crucial protections. Since being implemented in CA through the Department of Motor Vehicles, complaints of forms being pre-filled with a democratic choice of party affiliation are frequent. Since non-citizens can obtain driver’s licenses, it is an easy step to registering non-citizens to vote, which has happened.

3 – Automatic Mail Ballots

           With ballots mailed to everyone, theft of ballots, double voting, and fraudulent ballot use can occur quite easily. There are few controls over the integrity of this current system. Further, it enhances the possibility of people voting in two or more jurisdictions.

4 – Ballot Harvesting         

           Allowing anyone to collect ballots from voters with the intent of delivering them to ballot boxes, completely destroys the chain of custody and security of ballots. Voters handing over ballots to strangers have no assurance that their ballot will be delivered and counted. It is known now that activists doing the harvesting have filled in ballots for the voter or harassed voters. Some harvesters simply do not deliver ballots based on their own whims or political biases.

5 – Same Day Registration

            By removing the time needed to verify the authenticity and legality of a registrant, important checks on fraud and illegal voting are removed.  Even if later the registrant is found to be not eligible, their vote has already been counted and the election determined. There is nothing to stop a deluge of same day registrants targeting particular elections.

6 – Provisional Ballots

           By using provisional ballots there are so many ways that voting fraud can be committed that it is limited only by the imagination.  Since the inception of provisional ballots in 2002, states have implemented different rules covering the authentication and counting of these ballots. Problems vary depending on how closely monitored and reviewed they are. Nonetheless, problems are rife. On one hand there is the problem of ineligible people voting or multiple voting, and on the other hand, legitimate ballots are disqualified or not counted. In the tight 2016 midterm elections, Florida mixed both the valid and invalid provisional ballots after the initial count, thereby making separation of the good from the bad impossible for the recount. These ballots are by definition counted after the end of the election period and there are many examples of boxes full of them showing up later to turn the election result.