A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 04, 2018
Ballot Harvesting

"Ballot harvesting” refers to collecting absentee ballots. The “harvesting” system is legal in some states and legal in others. Political operatives go into neighborhoods, instruct people how to fill out absentee ballots, and then collect the ballots and send them to the board of elections. The absentee ballot is usually filled out the way that the political operative wants it to be, and critics have complained that “ballot harvesting” isn’t a proper way to vote.

The term “ballot harvesting” has been cited in print since at least 2001, when Westchester (NY) District Attorney Jeanine Pirro prosecuted it. In 2016, California made ballot harvesting legal. “Ballot harvesting” became a popular term in November 2018, when absentee ballots in seven California Congressional races changed the election races from Republican to Democrat.


3 August 2001, The Journal News (White Plains, NY), “2 charged in election scheme” by Bruce Golding, pg. A1:
WHITE PLAINS - The president of the Yonkers Democratic Club and a former judicial candidate were indicted yesterday in what prosecutors called a “ballot harvesting scheme” to fix several minor-party primary elections last year.

Dennis Wedra Sr., a professional political operative and Democratic ward leader, and Philip Werbel, a lawyer who has sought judicial seats in Westchester, Yonkers and the Bronx, both pleaded not guilty after the charges against them were unsealed in court.

The indictments allege Wedra, aided by Werbel, engineered a scheme to obtain minor-party absentee ballots signed by Yonkers residents, so fraudulent votes could be added before being filed for the Sept. 12 primary elections.

1 February 2002, (White Plains, NY), “Witness links senator to alleged ballot rigging” by Bruce Golding, pg. A1:
Wedra, 60, is standing trial on 166 counts of fraud, forgery and various violations of election law. He is accused of running what prosecutors called a “ballot harvesting scheme” to fix minor-party primaries through the use of fraudulently obtained absentee ballots.

Those allegations first came to light at a civil trial at which several Yonkers residents testified that absentee votes were cast in their names without their knowledge after they met Werbel while he campaigned in their neighborhoods. The evidence led state Supreme Court Justice W. Denis Donovan to throw out more than 350 absentee ballots cast in the election.

5 February 2002,The Journal News (White Plains, NY), “Witness: Official said he was paid to secure ballots” by Shawn Cohen, pg. B2:
In testimony last week, Werbel said he solicited absentee votes for himself from scores of Yonkers residents. Wedra is accused of illegally adding votes to those ballots in what Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro has called a “ballot-harvesting scheme.”

26 October 2014, Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ), “Ballot harvesting may be legal, but it isn’t right” by Doug MacEachern, pg. F5:
An Arizona-based political activist group with a radical agenda—left or right, take your pick—has hit on the idea of collecting mail-in ballots at election time from so-called “low efficacy” voters. That is, voters who sometimes may return the ballots mailed to their homes by the elections department. And, sometimes, not.

It’s not against the law. No other state is anywhere near as indifferent to such “ballot-harvesting” by activists as Arizona is. In comparison to election law in pretty much every other state, Arizona is a ballot-integrity-free zone.

For the last several election cycles, activists have collected these ballots by the thousands

4 November 2014, Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ), “‘Ballot harvesters’ reaping what they sow,” pg. A14:
The phenomenon is known as “ballot harvesting.”

Political groups scour the Permanent Early Voting List for voters who haven’t returned their ballots and, one way or another, collect those ballots from them. Or, at least, those ballots that include votes for the activists’ preferred candidates and causes.

Ballot harvesting is legal. Several states permit strangers to return by hand the mail-in ballots of registered voters. But no other state in the union is as indifferent to the possibility of abuse as Arizona is. This state puts no restrictions on the number of ballots a “harvester” can collect. And they often collect them by the thousands.

Arizona Capitol Times
Court: ‘Ballot harvesting’ ban not 1st Amendment violation
By: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services October 31, 2018
A federal appeals court has rebuffed yet another attempt to void the state’s 2016 ban on so called “ballot harvesting.”

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments by Democrat activist Rivko Knox that making it a felony for her to take someone else’s ballot to polling places interfered with her First Amendment rights. And the judges were no more sympathetic to her contention that the Arizona law illegally infringed on the right of the federal government to regulate who can deliver mail.

Washington (DC) Post
The Fix Analysis
Paul Ryan isn’t saying there was voter fraud in California. But . . .
By Colby Itkowitz
November 29, 2018
Outgoing House Speaker Paul D. Ryan suggested Thursday that the stream of post-Election Day Republican losses in California was suspect at best, piling on to growing claims from the right that the way the state counts ballots is somehow improper.

“It defies logic to me,” Ryan said in a wide-ranging interview with Washington Post reporter Paul Kane. “We had a lot of wins that night, and three weeks later we lost basically every contested California race. This election system they have, I can’t begin to understand what ballot harvesting is.”
(...)
Ryan’s mention of “ballot harvesting” echoed complaints from other Republicans, including Orange County Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker. The term describes when a voter hands over a completed ballot to a third party to be cast for them. This was the first year the practice was legal in California.

IVN
What is Ballot Harvesting?
by Jeff Powers in Campaigns Nov 30, 2018
SAN DIEGO, CALIF. – Questions are being asked about the term “ballot harvesting” and its impacts on the California election.

Ballot harvesting was used for the first time in November, and has clearly been advantageous to Democrats. This week, a seventh GOP-held congressional seat flipped to the Democrats, leaving Republicans controlling just seven of California’s 53 House districts.
(...)
Ballot harvesting allows anyone, even a paid political campaign worker, to collect and return ballots — “harvesting” them.

The Daily Caller
WHAT IS ‘BALLOT HARVESTING,’ AND HOW DID CALIFORNIA DEMS USE IT TO NUKE THE GOP?
5:14 PM 12/01/2018 | POLITICS
Scott Morefield | Reporter
As the polls closed on election day last month, six California Republican House candidates, including Representatives Dana Rohrabacher, Steve Knight, and Mimi Walters, were ahead in their respective races. However, as the absentee and provisional ballots rolled in over the intervening weeks, all six lost to their Democratic opponents.
(...)
Passed as a barely noticed change in the state’s vote by mail procedures in 2016 and signed by then-Governor Jerry Brown, California’s AB 1921 allows voters to give any third party — not just a relative or someone living in the same household, as was previously the law — to collect and turn in anyone else’s completed ballot.

Called “ballot harvesting,” critics say the practice is ripe for fraud.

Townhall
‘Ballot Harvesting,’ California Dems’ Latest Election Stealing Tool
Scott Morefield Scott Morefield |Posted: Dec 03, 2018 12:01 AM
n 2016, California took yet another significant step in its decades-long quest to become the world’s largest banana republic when then-Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1921, a then-barely-noticed revision to the state’s vote-by-mail procedures.

The change was a small but significant one. California, in its infinite wisdom, decided to make the practice of “ballot harvesting” legal. Thus, instead of only relatives or those living in the same household being allowed to legally collect and turn in absentee ballots for voters - as was previously the law - any “third party” can do it, including activist groups, Democratic operatives, or street-corner panhandlers.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Tuesday, December 04, 2018 • Permalink