Ballot collection

Ballot collecting, also called ballot harvesting, is characterized by the gathering and submitting of absentee or mail-in voter ballots by third-party individuals, volunteers or workers, rather than submission by the voters themselves directly to ballot collection sites.[1][2] It occurs in some areas of the U.S. where voting by mail is common, but is illegal in some other states.[3] The phrase ballot harvesting has been criticized as being negatively loaded by some observers.[3]

Policy in the United StatesEdit


Arizona banned the practice in 2016 except for family members and caregivers. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stayed the ban in 2016, with Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas describing the practice as "one of the most popular and effective methods by which minority voters cast their ballots". The United States Supreme Court then stayed the Ninth Circuit ruling that overturned the ban,[4] and a U.S. District Court judge upheld the ban in 2018.[5] In 2020, the Ninth Circuit found that the law violated the Voting Rights Act.[6]


California changed its rules before the 2018 midterm elections to allow persons other than family members to collect and submit ballots. Last-minute submissions of votes in the election delayed results and some pundits and Republican politicians suggested that it influenced the outcome of several elections.[7][8]

While the Los Angeles Times editorial board rejected claims that any elections were affected by the new ballot harvesting law in the 2018 midterms, it did call for the law to be fixed or repealed, saying the law "does open the door to coercion and fraud."[9] Republicans, in turn, are seeking to improve their own use of the practice.[10]


In 2018, voters approved a limit of 6 ballots per ballot collector.[11]

North CarolinaEdit

Ballot collecting is not legal in North Carolina.[2] Election fraud allegations related to ballot harvesting in North Carolina's 9th congressional district election in 2018 resulted in an investigation[12] by the North Carolina State Board of Elections[2] and a subsequent special election.[13] The 2019 North Carolina's 9th congressional district special election was held as a result.[14]


Ballot collecting on behalf of others is illegal in Texas, where state law mandates that absentee ballots must be submitted by the voter.[15][better source needed] In 2013, a state bill was passed, aiming to prevent ballot harvesting by making it a misdemeanor to give or receive compensation for collecting mail-in ballots in any election.[16]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Gomez, Luis (4 December 2018). "What is 'ballot harvesting' and how was it used in California elections?". Archived from the original on 4 September 2019.
  3. ^ a b Phillips, Amber (26 May 2020). "What is ballot 'harvesting,' and why is Trump so against it?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  4. ^ Liptak, Adam (6 November 2016). "Arizona Can Ban 'Ballot Harvesting,' Supreme Court Says". Archived from the original on 2 June 2019.
  5. ^ Gardiner, Dustin (10 May 2018). "Ban on 'ballot harvesting' in Arizona upheld by judge; Democrats vow to appeal".
  6. ^ Oxford, Andrew (27 January 2020). "Federal court says Arizona 'ballot harvesting' law discriminates against minority voters".
  7. ^ Blood, Michael R.; Ohlemacher, Stephen (30 November 2018). "Democratic sweep in California raises GOP suspicion". Associated Press.
  8. ^ O'Reilly, Andrew (3 December 2018). "Ballot harvesting bounty: How Dems apparently used election law change to rout California Republicans". Archived from the original on 30 November 2019.
  9. ^ The Times Editorial Board (7 December 2018). "No, Republicans didn't lose in California because of ballot harvesting. But the practice is concerning". Archived from the original on 4 November 2019.
  10. ^ Gardner, Amy (14 March 2019). "'We got our clocks cleaned': GOP quietly works to expand ballot harvesting in California while criticizing Democrats for the practice". Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Volz, Matt (7 December 2018). "Disputed House race puts spotlight on 'ballot harvesting'".
  13. ^ North Carolina State Board of Elections (25 February 2019). "State Board unanimously orders new election in 9th Congressional District". Archived from the original on 11 August 2019. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  14. ^ Bladen County operative at center of NC election fraud investigation indicted, arrested, Charlotte Observer, Ely Portillo and Jim Morrill, 27 February 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  15. ^ Firme, Tom (25 April 2019). "How to prevent vote harvesting". Archived from the original on 4 June 2019.
  16. ^ Aguilar, Julián; Wiseman, Todd (22 August 2013). "New Voting Law Aims to Curb Ballot Harvesting". Archived from the original on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2020.