“California Republicans prepared to match Democrats on ‘ballot harvesting.’ Then came coronavirus”

Carla Marinucci for Politico:

Leaders of the embattled California Republican Party are reversing course during the Covid-19 pandemic to demand Gov. Gavin Newsom ban a voting practice they until recently endorsed.

The Republican leaders vowed to boost their “ballot harvesting” efforts — to allow people to pick up and deliver absentee ballots that others have cast — after a Democratic thumping in the 2018 midterms. But they’re now arguing that it’s “an intolerable risk to public health and safety.”

The abrupt turnaround comes weeks before a special election for a crucial House seat in Los Angeles County to fill the vacancy left by Democrat Katie Hill’s resignation. California Republican Party chair Jessica Millan Patterson and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are among those asking Newsom to end “ballot harvesting’’ in the solidly-blue state.

The practice allows party volunteers to collect mail-in ballots and submit them in groups to polling places or election offices. Republicans blame the Democrats’ ballot collecting as one factor for their 2018 midterm woes, which saw them lose seven seats.

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