I have written this article for L.A. Lawyer. It begins:
California has been in the vanguard of election reform, passing voting rules that modernize the election process and make it easier to register and vote, such as same day an automatic voter registration via the state Department of Motor Vehicles. These laws, along with availability of no excuse vote-by-mail balloting, make the Golden State among the easiest in the country within which to register and vote. There is, however, one recent voting provision of California law that has become a source of special controversy: Since 2016, California Elections Code Section 3017 has allowed third parties to collect an unlimited number of completed absentee ballots from California voters. Although so far there have not been problems reported with the practice, so-called ‘ballot harvesting” opens the door to potential ballot tampering and election fraud. The practice also can undermine voters’ confidence in the election process even if there is no actual tampering going on.
With the emergence of COVID-19 leading to the apparent inevitability of increased vote-by-mail in November, with President Donald Trump and others’—without evidence—attacking vote-by-mail in general and ballot harvesting in particular as rife with fraud, now may be the time for California to impose reasonable limits on the third-party absentee ballot collection while taking care not to place additional burdens on minority voters and voters meeting special assistance along the way.