A new bill has been introduced in the Idaho Legislature to ban ballot harvesting in Idaho.
HB 88 was introduced Wednesday morning by Rep. Mike Moyle (R-Star) in the House State Affairs Committee.
The bill’s official Statement of Purpose is as follows:
This legislation addresses the issue of “ballot harvesting” – which is the practice of third party individuals and groups, many of them political activists or political parties, “harvesting” absentee or mail ballots from voters and then delivering them to election officials for processing and counting. This legislation would prohibit this practice by limiting ballot handling to those authorized to do so pursuant to Idaho law.
Idaho does not currently experience significant problems with ballot harvesting. However, it has become a widespread practice in some other states, where its practice places many voters’ ballots, and the sanctity of their vote, into the hands of those who may have a conflicted interest in the election’s outcome. These individuals may have a political incentive to deliver to the county clerk certain ballots, but not others, based on the ballot harvester’s perception or knowledge of the voter’s choices. Indeed, in 2018, there was at least one
U.S. Congressional election in which the election outcome waslikely changed by a ballot harvester withholding or tampering with absentee ballots. The purpose of this legislation is to help prevent such an outcome in any Idaho elections.
The specifics of this legislation are based on the recommendations of the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, in their 2005 report Building Confidence in U.S. Elections, and would limit ballot handling to election officials, U.S. Mail carriers, employees of nationwide parcel delivery businesses, and acknowledged family members.
Moyle’s proposal has a few exceptions for picking up ballots such as U.S. Postal workers. Additionally, HB 88 would allow a family member to collect a total of two ballots of someone who is also a family member.
Moyle, the HB 88’s sponsor, said during the bill’s introduction:
I was concerned that maybe we needed to fix Idaho’s law to make sure we don’t have a problem here in the future with harvesting ballots.
Rep. Julianne Young (R-Blackfoot), who sits on the committee where the bill was introduced, said she had some concerns and said the following during the introductory hearing:
I guess I just have a little tiny bit of concern. I wanna make sure, that if somebody doesn’t have family close by, and they’re in some kind of an in-patient setting that their would be a resonable, lawful way for them to vote. I guess I’m a little undecided here.
Several other lawmakers such as Rep. Heather Scott (R-Blanchard) and Rep. Rod Furniss (R-Rigby) brought up concerns about individuals who are in assisted living facilities and who did not have family members that could collect their ballots.
Moyle indicated that people in assisted living facilities can still have ballots sent to those facilities allowing them to vote.
Idaho Dispatch sent Moyle a follow up question asking about people living in assisted living facilities, who do not have family members near by, but do not feel comfortable mailing their ballots back in the mail because they wanted to ensure the ballots made it to the county clerk. Is there a way for them to have their ballot picked up?
Moyle did not respond to our request for comment.
During the 2020 election, a number of states had controversial issues that arose during the election. One of those issues was ballot harvesting.
Idaho did not discuss the issue at length as some other states did.
Moyle’s bill passed the “introductory hearing” and will now move to a full public hearing. A public hearing for the bill has not yet been scheduled.
What do you think of ballot harvesting?
Should it be illegal? Is whoever picks up your ballot a concern and how many they have?
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Tags: Ballot Harvesting, HB 88, Heather Scott, Julianne Young, Mike Moyle, Rod Furniss, Star