≡ Menu

Commentary: Ballot harvesting can undermine democracy

By Wes Mader Community Columnist Oct 10, 2020

For generations, election day was like a national holiday when Americans proudly went to the polls to exercise their constitutional right. Our model was copied by other nations when their people won their freedom. Sadly (for me), election day has essentially been replaced by a vote-harvesting season, 4-8 weeks long depending upon the state, with unrestricted absentee ballots being mailed or dropped off at vote collection sites. Vote counting could extend for days or weeks after Nov. 4. With reduced capability to verify voter identity, the stage has been set for increased fraud.

While political activists who support these voting procedure changes claim voter fraud is not a threat, significant fraud has and does occur, unfortunately without prosecution. We old-timers remember the razor-close election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960. According to a Chicago Tribune report following the election, “the election of Nov. 8, 1960 was categorized by such gross and palpable fraud as to justify the conclusion that Nixon was deprived of victory”.

Numerous fraud techniques were reported. Many deceased persons interred in Illinois’ Cook County cemeteries were reported as showing up at the polls and voting. The address of an abandoned and gutted house was used as the home address for 56 different voters who were reported as casting their ballots. Allegations of fraud were so rampant in Cook County that 650 individuals were reportedly charged. Other states reported similar activities.

When irregularities become apparent, it’s generally too late to identify and discard bad votes. It’s difficult to identify a culprit who casts votes using names of the dead, and politicians on the winning side in potentially fraudulent elections aren’t often anxious to press for investigation. The election fraud charges against the 650 individuals in Cook County were dropped, with some crediting Chicago Mayor Richard Daley for making the charges go away.

For those who don’t believe voter fraud happens in Minnesota, I’ll share a personal story. In 2002 my mother was spending her last years in a highly reputable senior care facility in the Twin Cities area. At 90-plus years, dementia impacted how she viewed the world each day. She was visited regularly by members of her large extended family who found her to be quite communicative.

After voting on election day in November 2002, I visited with my mother. With tongue in cheek, I asked her if she had voted yet. When she said yes in no uncertain terms, I asked who she voted for, expecting her to simply say she didn’t remember. Instead, she replied that a very nice lady had filled out the ballot for her but she didn’t remember who she voted for. The “nice lady” was unknown to her. It’s questionable if my mother with dementia had a legal right to vote, but no one had the right to harvest her vote. This was voter fraud that wouldn’t be prosecuted. No prosecutor would want to build a case based upon testimony of a 90-plus-year-old dementia patient. It’s no secret that senior housing facilities provide fertile ground for those who harvest votes.

I predict without reservation, that if the upcoming presidential election is extremely close, the losing side will be citing voter fraud, with or without hard evidence. Unfortunately, it will be near impossible to prove or disprove, given the variety of voting methods being used. When COVID-19 CARES Act money was mailed, millions of dollars went to deceased persons. When ballots get sent to a deceased person or wrong address as most surely happens, particularly in those five states that send ballots to all registered voters, some unethical citizens will likely mail the completed ballot just as some citizens cashed the CARES checks that were mailed to deceased relatives.

Allowing ballots to be cast by various means over a period of weeks will undoubtedly create a bountiful harvest of votes, but without the means to assure legitimacy of results. If readers doubt this possibility, I would refer them to the subject of vote harvesting on the internet. There are already significant reports from multiple states about inappropriate ballot harvesting, including in Minnesota. In one report, an individual can be seen on camera boasting about how many ballots he had collected in the Twin Cities area.

If we allow this trend to continue into the future, our election process may have the same credibility that exists in socialist or third world countries like Somalia, North Korea, Iran or Cuba. Heaven forbid.

Please read more from the Prior Lake American: