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Sacramento County Vote by Mail Official Ballot. (Photo: Saccounty.net)

U.S. Supreme Court Overrules 9th Circuit on Ballot Harvesting

When fraud does occur, ‘absentee ballots are the method of choice’

By Katy Grimes, July 6, 2021 7:48 am

California Has 1.8M More Registered Voters Than it Should, the Globe reported recently. California’s November 3, 2020 election was marred by significant voting and registration irregularities, the Election Integrity Project® California, Inc. reported to California’s Secretary of State Shirley Weber June 17, 2021.

For several years, Election Integrity Project California, Inc. team leaders have trained thousands of citizens to monitor California elections. EIPCa collects and analyzes voter registration and voting data, as well as county policies and procedures for election management and ballot processing, and presents a unique, unbiased perspective on the impact that lack of voting protections has in the state of California, a friend of the court brief says.

EIPCa’s motto is “Every Lawfully Cast Vote Accurately Counted.” Ballot harvesting flouts that principle by facilitating unlawful voting through undue influence, duplicative votes from out-of-date registrations, and other tactics discussed below, the court brief explains.

“The Court need look no further than the state of California as the model for what occurs when most protections are removed. In 2018, lax voting protections, a failure to properly implement a new voter registration system and systematic failures to ensure accurate voter rolls led to widespread voter confusion and possible disenfranchisement,” the brief says.

“Abusive ballot harvesting is a common vulnerability in vote-by-mail and absentee ballot systems demanding Arizona’s legislative response.”

Last year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that prohibiting ballot harvesting and requiring in-person voters to cast their vote at their designated precinct violated the Voting Rights Act in that they disproportionately affected minority voters and were enacted with discriminatory intent, an EIPCa press statement reports.

Non-partisan Election Integrity Project California (EIPCa) and Election Integrity Project Arizona (EIPAz), together with attorney Mike O’Neil of Landmark Legal Foundation filed the friend of the court brief informing the Court of the dangers of ballot harvesting.

EIPCa continued: Justice Alito, writing for the majority, noted that states have a legitimate interest in preventing voter fraud and that these policies work to prevent such fraud. “Fraud can affect the outcome of a close election, and fraudulent votes dilute the right of citizens to cast ballots that carry appropriate weight,” the Court continued. “Fraud can also undermine public confidence in the fairness of elections and the perceived legitimacy of the announced outcome.”

Thursday, the Supreme Court disagreed and overruled the 9th Circuit. Their decision ruled that federal law does not deprive states like Arizona of their authority to establish non-discriminatory voting rules to protect the sanctity of the vote nor did the Arizona legislature act with discriminatory intent when it enacted the policies.

Equally important, the Court found that “[e]nsuring that every vote is cast freely, without intimidation or undue influence, is [a] valid and important state interest.”

“We are heartened the Supreme Court has concluded that states have a right to enact commonsense laws that protect the integrity of the election process, thereby restoring the public’s faith in election outcomes,” Linda Paine, EIPCa President said. “Ballot harvesting removes the chain of custody protection allowing harvesters to seek out ballots that will be favorable to one side or another,” she added. “It is EIPCa’s major objective that California follow Arizona’s lead and begin to take steps to correct the many electoral vulnerabilities that have plagued our great state for years.”

The friend of the court brief explains:

Vote-by-mail or “absentee” voting, while becoming fashionable nationally as a method of voting, is particularly vulnerable to corruption such as vote manipulation, voter intimidation, and fraudulent ballot harvesting. What began decades ago as an ad hoc exemption for individual voters who would be absent from their locale on election day, has ballooned into common practice or even the legal standard. In the 2020 general election and in response to the COVID-19 crisis, around 65 million individuals cast their vote by mail. Michael McDonald, 2020 General Election Early Vote Statistics, U.S. Elections Project (Nov. 23, 2020).2 And states vary in how they regulate this type of voting.

Overturning the decision of the Ninth Circuit ensures that states may continue to implement commonsense protections for a method of voting that is outside the security of the election booth and inherently vulnerable. Removing protections such as limitations on the handling and delivery of vote-by-mail ballots will deny states a method to protect their electoral system from unscrupulous third parties who engage in ballot harvesting. Voter chaos ensues when protections are removed.

Even a study skeptical of the incidence of voter fraud generally acknowledges the dangers in vote-by-mail. It notes that, when fraud does occur, “absentee ballots are the method of choice.” The American Voting Experience: Report and Recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration 56 (2014).

Inaccuracies can, in part, be traced to states’ failures to enforce the provisions of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which require state election officials to ensure the accuracy of registration lists by confirming residency and periodically removing the names of dead or out of state residents from voter rolls. Millions of voters’ names appear on multiple state voter registration lists because states do not routinely share registration data.

Ballot-harvesting groups can easily exploit the situation and commit wholesale voter fraud. Such exploitation has occurred in the past.

California does not limit who may handle ballots and places very few restrictions on ballot collection. While ballot harvesters in California are required to write their name, signature, and relationship to the voter on the vote-by-mail envelope, a failure to provide this information will not cause a disqualification of the ballot.

Perhaps most important, the brief pointed out, “If the Ninth Circuit’s decision stands, voter protections throughout the country will be challenged and overturned. Activist groups will challenge similar laws in other states and courts will have to declare such laws illegal.”

The brief is fascinating and goes into great detail explaining just how shady ballot harvesting is.

Here are the friend of the court brief and  U.S. Supreme Court decisions:

SCOTUS 9th Circuit decision
Brnovich_v_DNC_EIPCaAmicusBrief
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15 thoughts on “U.S. Supreme Court Overrules 9th Circuit on Ballot Harvesting

  1. I wouldn’t trust politicians, especially Democrats, to run a fair and untainted election. It’s in their nature to want to make it advantageous for them and disadvantageous for their opposite party. The criminal and civil penalties for voter fraud should be memorable and harsh, given what’s at stake. Additionally, law must be passed that would cause all the campaign money collected by a political office candidate who loses an election, to be returned to contributors, instead of going into the wallets of the losers. Entering politics for the money instead of the good of the people must be discouraged.

    1. Absolutely agree, Abe!
      I would love to see harsher laws for voter fraud.
      Another great report from Katy Grimes!

  2. Abe, I concur. The limitation in this particular SCOTUS decision, is that it affirms the STATE legislature’s role in limiting ballot harvesting. The state can limit or not limit ballot harvesting depending on what laws legislators pass. In the US Constitution, the state legislature determines voting rules and regulations; especially for state and local elections. Arizona has a two-party system whereas California is currently a one party state (Democrat). In order for this SCOTUS decision to affect California elections in the future (e.g., the Newsom Recall) the California Supreme Court has to declare ballot harvesting unconstitutional and put it back on the legislature. As for absentee voting, the system needs to be purged and everyone should be made to re-register with a VALID reason and id requirements. That’s my opinion.

  3. At this point can only hope and pray that this Supreme Court ruling, which is a wonderful event, will affect us in California. In the meantime, gratitude as always to Katy Grimes for relentlessly keeping us up to date on this stuff and to the EIPca for their endless fight and their hard work always. Donate to EIPca if you can spare it.

  4. Kevin Kiley IS running to replaced Newsom….Let’s hope Newsom doesn’t rig his recall I’m sure he’s moved on to plan B after this court announcement…You would think the court would FINALLY weigh in on Newsoms state of emergency powers….It’s only been 1 1/2 YEARS and destroyed millions of lives….but hey.

    1. Liz, rigging is in their DNA – Newsom and Pelosi both. We need our people in every registrars office and polling place. The attacks on Kevin from all sides have already started. Newsom’s SURROGATES will focus on the ONE he and Nancy fear the most. My first c-note for the Kiley campaign is on its way. More to follow. My prediction now is that Ric Grenell will not enter and will back Kiley. Jenna Ellis is for Kevin as well. This opens the door for a Trump endorsement. Then, Kiley will become a national figure. THIS is what we need.

      1. Sounds great…until you remember that ballot harvesting is legal in CA. Hence, the recall vote will fail due to CA voter fraud. Yes, I’m grumpy today.

        1. CORRECT… FOR LIBERALS THE ELECTION IS NOT OVER UNTIL THEY SAY IT IS AND THATS WHEN THEY FIND ENOUGH FAKE BALLOTS TO PUT THEM AHEAD AND THEN IT IS OVER. ELECTION DAY/NIGHT NEEDS TO BE JUST THAT NOT ONE DAY OR ONE MONTH LATER. OMG HOW I HATE LIBS

  5. Every voter should have to show an ID, you can’t do that without being in person. I have no problem with the state mailing out ballots, I think that’s fair. I use absentee ballots every time now myself, but I also drop off my own ballot at my polling place every single time too. It would take nothing to pull out my ID and feel my vote is secured. Vote harvesting is just design to cheat the system under the disguise of “everyone has a right to vote.” If Republicans were the one’s who benefit from harvesting, the Democrats would be up in flames, arguing that we need to secure the votes…that’s the fact Democrats, no matter how hard you try to squirm your way out of it.

  6. newsome is going to cheat with the help of pelosi and harvesting has already begun. how many ballots have been mailed out to dead folks by the crooked demo. rats.

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