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OffbeatDisputed House race puts spotlight on 'ballot harvesting'

11:55  07 december  2018
11:55  07 december  2018 Source:   msn.com

Paul Ryan questions California's 'bizarre' vote-counting process

Paul Ryan questions California's 'bizarre' vote-counting process Paul Ryan, the outgoing House speaker, on Thursday cast doubt on the legitimacy of California’s ballot counting process, adding to claims from many on the right that the state’s election procedures are flawed. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); “It defies logic to me,” Ryan told the Washington Post. “We had a lot of wins that night, and three weeks later we lost basically every contested California race. This election system they have, I can’t begin to understand what ballot harvesting is.

Disputed races for the Virginia House of Delegates — which could determine control of the chamber — highlight the potential for fraud and even Even small numbers of illegal ballots could make a difference in races separated by handfuls of votes, said Hans von Spakovsky, a legal analyst at The

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Disputed House race puts spotlight on 'ballot harvesting'© The Associated Press FILE - In this Wednesday, May 9, 2018 file photo, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., left, speaks next to Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Republican incumbents were swept out of office in 2018 after a tally of late-arriving ballots. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

HELENA, Mont. — An investigation into whether political operatives in North Carolina illegally collected and possibly stole absentee ballots in a still-undecided congressional race has drawn attention to a widespread but little-known political tool called ballot harvesting.

It's a practice long used by special-interest groups and both major political parties that is viewed either as a voter service that boosts turnout or a nefarious activity that subjects voters to intimidation and makes elections vulnerable to fraud.

Mystery ballot could sway control of Alaska state government

Mystery ballot could sway control of Alaska state government It's a sign that every vote does count.A single mystery ballot found on a precinct table on Election Day but not counted then could decide a tied Alaska state House race and thwart Republican efforts to control the chamber and all of state government.The ballot arrived in Juneau last Friday in a secrecy sleeve in a bin with other ballot materials. Officials were investigating its origins and handling before deciding whether to tally it."People kept calling it close," Democrat candidate Kathryn Dodge said of the race for the House seat in Fairbanks. "I just didn't know it was going to be squeaky.

Ballot harvesting bounty: how dems used new rule to rout GOP in california. Allegations about similarly apparent mail-in absentee ballot irregularities also surfaced two years Dowless put his name on an elections protest, backed at the time by the campaign of then-GOP Gov.

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The groups rely on data showing which voters requested absentee ballots but have not turned them in. They then go door-to-door and offer to collect and turn in those ballots for the voters — often dozens or hundreds at a time. Some place ballot-collection boxes in high-concentration voter areas, such as college campuses, and take the ballots to election offices when the boxes are full.

In North Carolina, election officials are investigating whether Republican political operatives in parts of the 9th Congressional District harvested ballots from minority voters and didn't deliver them to the election offices. In some cases they are accused of harvesting ballots that were not sealed and only partially filled out. Ballot harvesting is illegal under state law, which allows only a family member or legal guardian to drop off absentee ballots for a voter.

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The race between Democrat Shelly Simonds and Republican Del. David Yancey has seesawed since the Nov. 7 election. Initially, it appeared that Yancey had A three-judge recount court later declared the race a tie after agreeing with the Yancey campaign that a disputed ballot was a vote for him.

The race to succeed retiring Gov. The impending end of the eight-year Dayton administration and the 2016 GOP takeover of both chambers of the Legislature have put state government at a potentially With the Republican-controlled state Senate not on the ballot this year and state House Republicans

Investigators are focusing on areas in the district where an unusually high number of absentee ballots were not returned. They want to know whether some ballots were not turned in as promised to the local elections office, were unsealed or only partially filled out.

Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes, but the state elections board has refused to certify the results. The head of the state Republican Party said Thursday that he would be open to holding a new election if there is evidence of fraud.

Supporters of ballot harvesting say they worry the North Carolina election may give an important campaign tool an unnecessary black eye. These groups see their mission as helping voters who are busy with work or caring for children, and empowering those who are sick, elderly and poor. Collecting ballots to turn in at a centralized voting hub also has been an important tool for decades on expansive and remote Native American reservations.

N.C. voter: Someone collected my absentee ballot and never turned it in

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A Republican recount official involved in the Newport News race that was decided by one vote had second thoughts about a ballot that wasn’t counted. WASHINGTON — A three-judge panel declared a tie in a Newport News House of Delegates race one day after the Democrat had declared victory.

House control, GOP urges judges to stick by disputed ballot ruling. Recounters get some help filling out paperwork on Dec. RICHMOND — Republicans on Friday asked a three-judge panel in Virginia to stick by its decision to count a disputed ballot in a squeaker legislative race , a ruling that threw the

"Sometimes we think of voting as this really straightforward process and we often forget that all voters, but for new voters in particular, there's a lot of confusion when voting about when they actually have to vote by, where they have to take their ballot to," said Rachel Huff-Doria, executive director of the voter advocacy group Forward Montana.

Several states have tried to limit ballot harvesting by restricting who can turn in another person's ballot. In Arizona, a video that showed a volunteer dropping off hundreds of ballots at a polling place prompted a debate that led to an anti-ballot harvesting law in 2016.

"I think at any level, Republican, Democrat or anything, it's wrong. It's a terrible practice," said former Arizona Republican Party chairman Robert Graham, who backed the law. "People should be responsible for their own votes."

Disputed House race puts spotlight on 'ballot harvesting'© The Associated Press FILE - In this April 19, 2018 file photo, Rivko Knox, a volunteer with the League of Women Voters, collects signatures for a campaign financing ballot measure outside a polling station in Glendale, Ariz. A judge on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 upheld a 2016 Arizona law that bans groups from collecting early mail-in ballots from voters and delivering them. The ruling dismissed a legal challenge to the law filed by Knox. (AP Photo/Anita Snow, File)

The Arizona law making it a felony in most cases to collect an early ballot was challenged in federal court before the 2016 election, and blocked by an appeals court. The U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and allowed the law to be enforced.

Republican takes House race by 1 vote after recount

Republican takes House race by 1 vote after recount Republican Bart LeBon has won an Alaska state House race by one vote after a ballot recount, officials said.Before Friday's recount, LeBon and Democrat Kathryn Dodge were tied with 2,661 votes apiece.Recount results showed LeBon with 2,663 votes while Dodge had 2,662 votes, after LeBon picked up two votes and Dodge picked up one, according to the Alaska Division of Elections.A much talked about mystery ballot found weeks ago on a table in a voting precinct ended up playing no role in the race outcome. The ballot was tossed Friday after officials said it was determined to be a spoiled ballot from a voter who had made a mistake on it, told officials and then filled out a new ballot.

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Further challenges have so far been unsuccessful, most recently just before the midterm election.

Montana was the latest state to pass an anti-ballot harvesting law when voters approved a referendum last month. Al Olszewski, a Republican state senator, said he proposed the ban after two of his constituents in northwestern Montana complained of pushy ballot collectors coming to their homes.

"For a woman in her 70s that's maybe frail and lives alone and feels intimidated, at least now they can say please leave" and have confidence that the law is behind them, he said.

Voting-rights advocates are dismayed that such laws are being passed without evidence of actual ballot fraud happening, at least before questions were raised about the activities in the North Carolina congressional race. They say restricting who can collect ballots punishes certain voters without doing anything to actually detect, deter or punish fraud.

"If you have an honest person who is trying to help voters, then who they are doesn't matter as long as they return (the ballot)," said Myrna Perez, the deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice's democracy program.

California went in the opposite direction when it passed a law in 2016 to allow ballot harvesting.

Republicans felt the new law's effects during this year's midterm elections after congressional districts that GOP candidates were leading on Election Day flipped to the Democrats when a flood of last-minute mail-in ballots were counted along with provisional ballots.

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In the brief that they filed this morning, the challengers cited Arizona’s “long history of racial discrimination” and emphasize that ballot “ harvesting ” The challengers dismissed the state’s efforts to justify the ballot - harvesting bar as an anti-fraud measure. Not a single supporter of the bill, they

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The rout included several seats that had been held by Republicans in the former GOP stronghold of Orange County, where more than 250,000 mail-in ballots were turned in on Election Day. And in the agriculture-dominant Central Valley, Republican incumbents Jeff Denham and David Valadao saw their leads disappear after a tally of late-arriving ballots.

Valadao, for example, had an initial lead of more than 7 percentage points, but Democrat T.J. Cox pulled ahead after winning 56 percent of the votes counted after Election Day.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan described California's election system as "bizarre" in an interview with The Washington Post.

California's situation underscored that ballot harvesting is an important tool for political parties. Orange County Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker wrote in a newsletter last month that Republicans must "develop a response to this new law that allows us to remain competitive."

Even Olszewski, the sponsor of Montana's anti-ballot harvesting measure, acknowledges that laws such as his are unlikely to eliminate ballot harvesting completely. Such "micro-targeting" of voters when used with technology to identify individuals' political leanings has become too important and effective in get-out-the-vote efforts, he said.

"I think the Democrats, they're the ones that figured it out and were far more successful in '18, in this election, than the Republicans ever were," he said. "The Republicans, what I'm hearing right now early on is, holy cow, we need to learn how to do this as good or better than the Democrats at harvesting ballots. We have the data."

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Associated Press writers Michael R. Blood in Los Angeles and Bob Christie in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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Follow Matt Volz at https://twitter.com/mattvolz

Woman says she was paid to collect absentee ballots in North Carolina House race.
An absentee ballot witness on Monday said Monday that a Bladen County, N.C., electioneer paid her to collect absentee ballots from last month's midterm elections. 

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