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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. It occurs in some areas of the U.S. where voting by mail is common, but is illegal in some other states. The phrase ballot harvesting has been criticized as being negatively loaded by some observers.
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, and a U.S. District Court judge upheld the ban in 2018. In 2020, the Ninth Circuit found that the law violated the Voting Rights Act.
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.
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elections were affected by the new ballot harvesting law in the 2018 midterms, it did call for the law to be fixed or repealed, saying the law "does open the door to coercion and fraud." Republicans, in turn, are seeking to improve their own use of the practice.
In 2018, voters approved a limit of 6 ballots per ballot collector.
Ballot collecting is not legal in North Carolina. Election fraud allegations related to ballot harvesting in North Carolina's 9th congressional district election in 2018 resulted in an investigation by the North Carolina State Board of Elections and a subsequent special election. The 2019 North Carolina's 9th congressional district special election was held as a result.
Ballot collecting on behalf of others is illegal in Texas, where state law mandates that absentee ballots must be submitted by the voter.[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.
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