Donald Trump Claims Democrats Will Harvest Ballots In California; Devin Nunes Already Admitted Republicans Are
It’s illegal in 49 states, Devin Nunes says (he’s wrong), and according to Donald Trump, Democrats plan to use it to win in California. Ballot harvesting is, in fact, legal in California, and in at least 25 other states, in some cases with limitations. Nunes has already said the Republican party has been doing it in his home state.
In a tweet Tuesday morning, Donald Trump declared that California has hired a “pure Sleepy Joe Democrat firm to count and harvest votes.” According to Politicus USA, he’s likely referring to SKD Knickerbocker — a PR firm that has been hired by the state of California to run a campaign encouraging mail-in voting.
California hired a pure Sleepy Joe Democrat firm to count and “harvest” votes. No way Republicans get a fair shake. Lawyers, get started!!! @GOPLeader California is in big trouble. Vote Trump and watch the greatest comeback of them all!!! Also, New York and Illinois – go for it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2020
Though Republicans have alleged that this is a conflict of interest, and launched an investigation, since the firm has also worked for Joe Biden’s campaign, there’s no evidence to support that the PR firm would be involved in actual elections work, including counting ballots. It’s not a notion grounded in reality whatsoever.
While California does allow a voter to designate another individual to return their ballot, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) notes one restriction: the person returning the ballot can’t be compensated for returning a number of ballots. This makes it an unlikely task for a business to take on, where grassroots groups, volunteers, and political operatives can do it for free.
Aside from ballot harvesting — simply the act of collecting and returning ballots for those who cannot do so themselves — being legal in California, it’s also not something that Republicans can point a collective finger at Dems for. Devin Nunes, a U.S. congressman from California, spoke earlier this year about his own party doing it, during a special election.
In fact, in states where ballot harvesting is legal, it’s done by volunteers and supporters of both major parties, as well as smaller parties, unaffiliated groups, and other volunteers. Where it’s legal, it’s not a shocking behavior, although sometimes there are partisan efforts to treat it so.
Referring again to the NCSL guide linked above, Nunes is not correct about ballot harvesting being illegal in 49 states. Several states outlaw it entirely, but more than a dozen have no restrictions. Some, like Missouri and North Carolina, limit who can return a ballot for a voter, limiting it to family or household members, or to acquaintances — so no allotment for a PAC to send a volunteer door to door. Other states limit how many ballots one person can return for other voters — in Colorado, it’s 10, and in Arkansas, it’s two, for example.