You may have remembered several elections for the House in California seemingly won on election night by Republicans.
People were even talking about Young Kim, for example, a Korean-American candidate triumphing in Orange County, she had an 8,000 vote lead over the Democrat and even went to orientation for the new GOP freshmen class.
Except then something happened.
Republicans like Kim who were up by thousands of votes suddenly found their leads diminishing and then disappearing as the counts continued after the election.
All six races in which Republicans had been leading on election night went to the Democrats, which raised a lot of eyebrows.
Even outgoing Speaker, Paul Ryan, called it bizarre and questioned how it could have happened. “California just defies logic to me,” said Ryan at a Washington Post live event. “We were only down 26 seats the night of the election, and three weeks later, we lost basically every California contested race,” he said.
And the answer is while there were likely many factors, the most significant factor is something which is legal, at least in California. It’s illegal in most other places.
It’s called ballot harvesting, which became permissible under a new California law passed in 2016, pushed, of course, by the Democrats.
The law AB 1921 allows voters to give any third party — not just a relative or someone living in the same household, as was previously the law — to collect and turn in anyone else’s completed ballot.
Naturally, that opens the question for fraud and other issues.
Here’s a sample, recorded here of someone trying to get what she thought was a Democratic voter’s ballot because it’s a “new service” for those who “are supporting the Democratic party.”
How much can it bring in?
250,000 “harvested” ballots came in in Orange County allowing Democrats to sweep Orange County, a Republican bastion.
From Daily Caller:
“We beat Republicans on the ground, fair and square,” said Katie Merrill, a Democratic consultant deeply involved in November campaigns. “Many of the field plans included (ballot harvesting) as an option to deliver voters or their ballots” to the polls.
Those efforts involved identifying voters who might support Democratic candidates and ignoring those who wouldn’t.
In one Orange County household, for example, both the husband and wife were longtime Republicans, said Dale Neugebauer, a veteran Republican consultant. Democratic volunteers came by the house four times, each time asking to speak only with their 18-year-old daughter, a no-party-preference voter, and asking if she wanted them to pick up her signed and completed ballot.
That’s a perfect example of the “thorough and disciplined” ground game the Democrats used, said Merrill.
The problem critics had with it?
Before its passage, a group opposed to the bill wrote: “AB 1921 would allow anybody to walk into an elections office and hand over truckloads of vote by mail envelopes with ballots inside, no questions asked, no verified records kept. It amounts to an open invitation to large-scale vote buying, voter coercion, “granny farming”, and automated forgery. AB 1921 solves no problem that a simple stamp can’t solve.”
And now Republicans will have to learn how to deal with this questionable practice, if they hope to win in California. And they better figure out how to ensure it isn’t being misused for fraud.