Republicans Highlight Early Voting, Ballot Harvesting, and Drop Boxes at California GOP Meeting

Republicans Highlight Early Voting, Ballot Harvesting, and Drop Boxes at California GOP Meeting
California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson speaks about legal ballot harvesting at the 2024 CAGOP Convention in Burlingame, Calif., on May 17, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
BURLINGAME, Calif.—Midway through her remarks at the California GOP’s spring meeting, Harmeet Dhillon quipped about some of the alternatives to conventional same-day voting in the Golden State.

Election administration, she explained, includes “mail-ballots and their use, ballot harvesting, drop boxes—all the stuff that we’re familiar with in California—in fact, we’re really experts on in California.”

The Republican National Committee’s National Committeewoman from California focused on election integrity litigation, much of it seeking to protect what she called “speed bumps on the Left’s wholesale ballot harvesting.”

But other speakers on May 17 expanded on how the state’s GOP is accommodating itself to the “new normal” of non-Election Day voting, involving tactics with which some rank-and-file Republicans remain uncomfortable.

Those arguing for adaptation included California State Sen. Brian Jones, who leads the Republicans in that chamber.

“I’m trying to convince my wife [I’m] the super leader of the super minority,” he joked.

Speaking after Ms. Dhillon, he delivered a detailed pitch for early voting, arguing that it saves money for candidates while helping voters feel a sense of connection and commitment.

“Now you have the time and the energy and the mental capacity to go and make sure other people are voting. And folks, we’ve got to take advantage of the ballot harvesting that’s happening in California. We can do it better than they [the Democrats] do,” the state senate minority leader said.

Mr. Jones’ message on early voting was in line with what conservatives and Republicans across the country are now saying.

Early voting evangelists now include Turning Point Action, which has launched a ballot-chasing initiative designed to boost turnout, in part by educating conservative Americans about early voting.

“This is an early voting project. It straight-up is,” Andrew Kolvet, a spokesman for the group, told The Epoch Times.

On Truth Social, former President Donald J. Trump has endorsed early and absentee voting, calling them and Election Day voting “good options.”

The Republican message on ballot harvesting and all it entails has been more mixed. But California allows a designated person to return ballots in a relatively flexible way.

Additionally, in 2021, California permanently instituted a policy of sending mail-in ballots to every registered voter in the state, building on a precedent set during the COVID-19 response.

In that environment, the state GOP is trying to master “legal ballot harvesting.”

One session, “Ballot Harvesting & Curing,” walked the audience through the rationale and mechanics of absentee ballot collection. Drop boxes were discussed at length.

Speaker Krista Pittman, deputy executive director and political director of the state GOP, described one legal ballot harvesting operation at an unnamed megachurch in the Inland Empire. During the three previous election cycles, it yielded 60,000 ballots, according to Ms. Pittman.

She declined to provide the name of that megachurch to The Epoch Times.

In the audience, Marin County’s Guy Meyer, an associate delegate, asked if there were objections in the California Republican Party to mail-in voting.

“We are for whatever you’re most comfortable voting,” Ms. Pittman responded.

“If you do decide to go vote by mail, go do it as early as possible,” she said, saying that would leave the party more time for ballot curing.

Ms. Pittman repeatedly encouraged voters to monitor the status of their ballots using BallotTrax.

“I thought they [the Republican Party] were completely opposed to the mail-in,” Mr. Meyer told The Epoch Times afterward, saying he had only recently joined the party after being an independent.

“The mail-in, to me, is a form of government to keep people from thinking. They want you to vote six weeks in advance. They don’t want you to listen to any debates,” he added.

From The Epoch Times

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