News & Politics

CA GOP Calls Newsom's Bluff; Sues to Stop Non-Socially Distanced 'Ballot Harvesting' in Special Election

CA GOP Calls Newsom's Bluff; Sues to Stop Non-Socially Distanced 'Ballot Harvesting' in Special Election
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

If California is to remain on lockdown and its citizens forced to practice social distancing, then there’s no way Democratic operatives can go door-to-door to collect ballots in the state’s special election set for May 12th.

That’s the idea behind a lawsuit filed against the governor to stop the tawdry process of “ballot harvesting” in two contests. First is the special election to replace Katie Hill, the congresswoman caught pressuring a current and former staffer to have sexual relations with her. The case was the first time many people had ever heard of the word “throupling.” The other contest on May 12 is a state senate seat in district 28, Riverside County, to replace Jeff Stone, who went to work for the Trump Labor Department.

Hill took the once-reliably Republican seat in 2018 after Democrats changed the law, allowing the collection of mail-in ballots directly from people.

California Republicans in 2018 expected the usual voter turnout in Orange County and sat by while third-party ballot harvesters brought in booties of hundreds of ballots each putting a blue wash over the last Republican bastion of California. It took days to count all the new ballots.

The problem with ballot harvesting is that there’s no control of the ballot after it leaves a voter’s hands. It’s not clear if it is counted or if Democratic operatives dump ballots they know are from Republicans. They can go to nursing homes and “help” people mark their ballots and collect them. There’s a real threat of suggestibility and intimidation. Hans A. von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation says “giving third parties who have a stake in the outcome of an election unsupervised access to voters and their absentee ballots is not wise.” That’s an understatement.

But Republicans are suing to prevent the harvesting because, after all, we need to implement social distancing.

The California GOP wrote in a series of tweets.

Gov Newsom has told Californians that they can’t open their businesses, their kids can’t go to school, and they can’t attend family events including weddings and funerals. If we can’t see our mothers on Mother’s Day, then strangers shouldn’t be visiting our homes to collect ballots. He must stop dodging this issue. His silence is irresponsible and is putting Californians’ lives at risk – and without direction from the Democrats in office.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who’s also being sued, told CBS News that he sees nothing wrong about collecting ballots from possible coronavirus patients.

California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who is also named in the lawsuit and is currently pushing for a 50-state, vote-by-mail plan ahead of the November presidential election, told CBS News, “this whole debate is nothing but a pretext that Republicans use to advance their voter suppression agenda.”

Padilla said there is “no conflict” when it comes to ballot harvesting during the coronavirus pandemic despite a statewide stay-at-home order that Newsom issued in mid-March.

“Yes, there are numerous public health directives in place,” Padilla acknowledged. “But at the same time, there are fundamental voting rights that are in place and must be protected. There is no conflict. People can reach out to voters and people can exercise multiple ways of voting, while respecting public health directives.”

[Head of the California GOP Jessica] Patterson argued that voters “aren’t leaving their ballots on the front steps,” and that the practice of ballot harvesting “requires an in-person hand off.” She added “that would absolutely violate social distancing if someone is coming to your house, and picking up that ballot from you, and you’re signing it over to them.”

By “voter suppression” Padilla means matching votes with voters, requiring voter identification, requiring people to actually be alive, and voting only once.

President Trump is not a fan of ballot harvesting, writing in all caps on Twitter,



The head of the California GOP Jessica Patterson says Republicans have people available to collect ballots but she and the GOP leadership nationally sees it as a bad idea and won’t do it this election due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.

ProPublica: Millions of Vote-by-Mail Ballots Aren’t ‘Missing’ — They’re Just ‘Most Likely in Landfills’