Republican candidates and conservative activists are embracing the long-shunned electoral strategy of collecting votes after the party was once again defeated by Democrats using that game plan.
This year, however, it became clearer that the Republicans won in places where they competed with the Democratic electoral operations.
Ballot harvesting — when a third party collects completed ballots from voters and then delivers them in bulk to election officials — has long been opposed by Republicans, who said it was ripe for fraud.
California Republican Representatives Mike Garcia and Michelle Steele said they could not afford to sit on the sidelines while Democrats reaped the rewards of the practice.
Mr. Garcia and Ms. Steele won re-election this year with the help of successful vote-harvesting initiatives through their campaigns.
Mr Garcia said the collection of ballots is the culmination of an ongoing voter engagement strategy.
“It’s not necessarily about harvesting, it’s about voting,” he told The Washington Times.
He’s treating his campaigns like a long-term courtship, he said, deploying volunteers in the communities two years before the election, intensifying the knocking at the door as the early voting and election day approach.
“So we rely on different institutions, some churches helped us with that. We obviously have multiple drop boxes across the country that serve as very effective ways for people to drop off their ballots in a very convenient way,” he said.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, of the 31 states where a voter authorizes another person to vote on their behalf, nine states limit the number of ballots an authorized person can return, and four states limit the time period those ballots can be returned. released. remain in the possession of the authorized person before being returned.
These bans were put in place out of concern that providing people with the convenience of returning their ballots could turn into pressure on them to vote a certain way.
GOP activists celebrated the progress the party is making in collecting ballots, even though the results of the midterm elections were disappointing for the party in some ways, such as a failure to win control of the Senate.
“The House of Representatives is controlled by the GOP thanks to how we performed in states with the most liberal vote-harvesting and mail-in voting laws — New York, Oregon, California. We can control this system. Democrats pray we refuse to try,” Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk wrote on Twitter.
“I miss politics where the better arguments and hardest-working candidates won elected offices,” he said. “Now it is a matter of which political machine can collect the most ballots in a 30-day span. So be it, we will now have to beat the left in the game.”
Mr. Kirk is not alone in his thoughts. The CEO and co-founder of the Federalist, Sean M. Davis, said in a tweet that those Republicans blaming interim results on “candidate quality” and former President Donald Trump are simply putting up a “smokescreen for the GOP ringing the bell” on vote harvesting and the basic mechanics of election campaigns.”
He added, “The *only* thing that is the party establishment’s proper job is to do the one thing it refused to do.”
Harmeet K. Dhillon, president of the Republican National Lawyers Association, responded to Mr. Davis in saying, “The party establishment is doing a fine job of this. The base doesn’t like it. We collect ballots in CAGOP and are attacked by ‘election integrity’ groups. You can hate the law and work to change it, but it’s foolish to leave votes on the table.”
A spokesman for the Republican National Committee said it is sticking to its policy of opposing ballot collection, but left some wiggle room for its candidates.
“Republicans also know that we must abide by the rules set by each state and will leave no stone unturned to win as many races as possible,” the RNC said in a statement to The Times.
The RNC won the U.S. Supreme Court case Brnovich v. DNC in July 2021 to uphold a ban on ballot harvesting in Arizona. The RNC also collaborated with the California Republican Party in efforts to increase voter turnout through various methods of ballot collection.
US Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp said part of the problem with a term like “ballot harvesting” is that it isn’t clearly defined.
Ballot harvesting is a completely corrupt process that Republicans should reject. That said, as we know, it has been made legal,” Mr Schlapp said. “In some ways you can say it’s always been legal because you always had people who were disabled or people who were older who needed help.
“The law was never meant to say you can’t vote if you’re in trouble and of course, as the left does with everything, they drive a Mack truck by some minor exception,” he said.
Mr. Schlapp encouraged Republicans to collect ballots where the practice is legal if that is the only way to beat Democrats.
“It is a kind of company dealing with a corrupt tax law. It can shout about the tax code… but ultimately it has to follow the tax code and take advantage of the tax code,” he said. “And even companies that take advantage of tax deductions find them repugnant and immoral, but they do it anyway.”