Engaging in Civic Duties Amidst Potential Fraud: A Discussion on Ballot Harvesting:
Ever wondered how regulations around ballot harvesting affect electoral outcomes? We’re peeling back the layers on this controversial topic, tackling the delicate balance of using the tools that are available while pushing to remove ballot harvesting from the law. We take you on a whirlwind tour of differing state regulations on the topic. We must ensure robust verification with checks and balances.
Our guest today is Hans von Spakovsky from The Heritage Foundation. Listen, as he walks us through this delicate topic. There is ongoing ballot trafficking in our country. What can we do? We leave no stone unturned. We illuminate the constitutional provision that empowers legislatures to dictate election law and we unearth the pitfalls of tampering with ballots and the criticality of documentation in such instances.
Lastly, we plunge headfirst into the debate storming around election rules pertaining to ballot harvesting. We dissect how regulations from the states that tolerate some form of ballot harvesting, shape electoral outcomes. We bring to light the importance of staying engaged in the political process, regardless of the potential for fraud, emphasizing the need for personal responsibility in fulfilling civic duties. Step into this vital conversation on our electoral process and the call for wisdom and action rather than surrendering to the status quo. Don’t miss out!
Air Date: 11/15/2023
Guest: Hans von Spakovsky
Rick Green: 0:09
Music. Welcome to the intersection of faith and the cultures. WallBuilders were taken on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. You can find out more at our website, WallBuildersLive.com and also WallBuilders.com. I’m Rick Green here with David and Tim Barton, and we appreciate you joining us for this program. Today we’re going to be talking about a hot topic, which is ballot harvesting, and we’ve all been against that in the past, but it’s the law of the land now, and we saw some good models from Jack Hibbs and others that used that to win some races, actually just following the law. So, David, Tim this is in fact, David, I was going to start off this way when you were vice chair of the Republican Party of Texas. I don’t think there was a concept of this type of thing, or maybe there was, but we would have always opposed something like this being in the law. I don’t know if you have a good example of how y’all dealt with it back then or not, but do you think we should be making the most of it while it is the law and then trying to change the law to have a tighter election? You know, integrity system.
David Barton: 1:07
Well, first off let me say thatalter something, just a little bit. You said it’s not the law of the land, it’s the law of the land in 24 states. So what we’re dealing with is a state issue here, and it was not an issue in the state of Texas. It really was not an issue nationally. The first time ballot harvesting really became part of the national focus was in the presidential election of 2016. And in that presidential election there was a lot of talk about ballot harvesting. People were saying, hey, I don’t think that’s right, I don’t think that’s fair, I don’t think that’s good, that’s illegal, and that was the first time it really came up. But it’s out there in 24 states 24 states allowed to some degree. And just to kind of put a definition around this, ballot harvesting is a law that allows someone besides a voter to pick up that voter’s ballot and deposit it in the ballot box. So it could be a mail ballot, absentee ballot, early voting, whatever. And you can call the neighbors up and down your street and say, hey, let me come by and pick up your ballots. You might forget to mail it, you might forget to send it in. I’ll come get it and I’ll make sure I put it in for you. So this allows people to go to nursing homes or to go to hospitals or unions or neighborhoods or wherever, and collect as many ballots as they can from other people to put them in. Now, there are several things that go with this. One is by having more ballots to put in. We just saw last week in Wisconsin that they have now identified that over 17,000 dead voters voted in 2020 in Wisconsin, and that’s a ballot harvesting state. So if you go have a ballot to drop in, you can put somebody else’s name on it and vote different or whatever. So having those extra ballots allows you more latitude. If you’re inclined to have fraud. And, by the way, one of the things that we were doing in 2020, working with Chad Connelly and Faith Wins we were looking specifically at Wisconsin on people who might be dead voters voting, and so we looked specifically. Chad had them. Look at people who are 100 years older older, and the first and that doesn’t mean a hundred year old can’t vote. Maybe you can be a hundred and fifteen and vote, but there’s not many hundred year old voters that are still voting. So look at that and see if they’re really alive. Well, the first 200 names they went through, they found 63 online obituaries where that those people were dead and yet voted in the election, Actually found a guy named Jason Daniels who was born in 1850 and voted twice in 2020. So the dude went through the Civil War and still voting. That’s the kind of stuff you want to stop. That’s what ballot harvesting can’t allow to happen.
Tim Barton: 3:36
Well, one thing to guys I think a lot of people would say in regards to ballot harvesting is they would say you know, the idea behind it is, if there’s some, some grandma who can’t get herself to the polls and the neighbors like, hey, let me, just let me take your ballot for you and that way your vote counts and you don’t have to worry about having to find a ride and it’d be so hard for you. And so people, I think, would argue that the ballot should already have been filled out. That’s what I think everybody would agree to. Well, it’s what. It’s what even the cheaters would say should happen. They just it’s not what they would do. But the idea is the ballot should be filled out. But the reason that, as you point out, this becomes such a major problem is we know of instances where I mean literally, there are interviews where people would on camera, say somebody gave them $20 for their ballot or $50 or $100 for their ballot and they gave the blank ballot to the person that had paid them money and then that person was able to take the ballot and go do whatever they wanted with it. And Also, in different states they have some regulations where they maybe you can ballot harvest, but you can only click five ballots. So every individual can only get five ballots and that’s the most any individual can have and I’m using this as an example. It’s different in different states, but there’s often parameters around this. To try to, again, this is going to be where Doesn’t mean cheaters are going to cheat, but this is where people would say we want to make sure that there’s some level of integrity with this. Again, the problem is it’s creating so many avenues and mechanisms where cheating can take place, where dishonest people it’s easier for them to be even more dishonest and there’s there’s not a way to have the same authentication, verification, checks and balances as when, for example, in Texas, when you show up, you have to present a valid ID and they have you in the system. If you are registered and they have a address that you are registered with and if, for example, the address where you are registered is not the address on your ID, then they’re going to have you Fill out some paperwork. They might have you. I have a different kind of ballot that you’re voting and then they have to verify your address before they approve that ballot. It’s a very different process Then when we’re talking about a mail-in ballot where there’s nobody, that necessarily does the same verification or authentication and it allows cheating to happen so much more readily. So, even though people would say we’re just trying to help grandma be able to have her voice heard, that that is not the main problem that we are seeing with these mail-in ballots.
David Barton: 6:17
The one other thing that goes with that is you have different communities of interest that tend to vote Kind of monolithically. If you’re if you’re in the inner city of Detroit or New York City or somewhere else, inner city is going to vote Any any large urban areas going to vote about 80 to 85 percent Democrat. If you’re in a rural area, for example, rural Texas votes 81 percent Republican. So if I’m an unscrupulous Republican, I’m going to go through door to door in Chicago and say, hey, let me get your ballot, I’m going to turn it in for you. I happy to save you the effort, and so I’ll get a box full of ballots and I’ll just go trash them somewhere, not turn them in. That keeps those Democrat votes from being counted. Or if I’m an unscrupulous Democrat, I’ll go out through rural Texas and say, hey, it’s a long way from you guys to get to to the voting thing. I’ll be happy to take your ballot for you, let me take it. And then I’m going to trash that box of ballot somewhere on the side of the road, which was what we saw in Pennsylvania in 2016, where that there were carts, little cartons of Ballots that had been picked up, that were never delivered, never taken, where they go. So that’s the other thing. Is you, if is, if you have no fear of God, if you don’t believe you’re ever going to count to God, if you believe that everything in life is right now and that the Injustifies, the means? Having ballot harvesting with unscrupulous people can also prevent your ballot from ever showing up, much less being cheated in some way. So Hans von Spalsky with with the Heritage Institute, we talked to him from time to time on various ballot initiatives, and this is a pretty interesting one right now because it is legal in half the nation’s to growing trends. So what do you do to secure elections and make sure that you have less voter fraud, less ballot fraud? And it’s going to be a fun discussion here.
Rick Green: 7:56
From the Heritage Foundation, hans von Spakowski, will be with us when we return here on WallBuilders.
Tim Barton: 8:11
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders, with another moment from American History. Too often today, history education excludes great black heroes from the American founding, such as Lemuel Haynes. Haynes, abandoned as a baby, pioneered churches across upper New England. He became the first black American to pastor a white congregation, to receive an honorary master’s degree and to be ordained by a mainstream Christian denomination, the Congregationalist. He was a soldier during the American Revolution and in his churches on George Washington’s birthday he regularly preached sermons honoring George Washington. Even late in his life, he expresses willingness to go back to battle if necessary to protect America, which he called a sacred ark. American history is filled with numerous examples of black heroes who are largely ignored by mainstream education today. For more information about Pastor Lemuel Haynes and other colonial patriots, go to WallBuilders.com.
Rick Green: 9:09
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us. Hans Von Spakowski is back with us from Heritage Foundation. Hans, good to have you, man. Thanks for coming back on today.
Hans von Spakovsky: 9:17
Well, thanks for inviting me.
Rick Green: 9:19
Well, thanks for all the good work at Heritage and for just the research on all this election integrity stuff. Questions from our audience and from me personally, on all of what they’re calling ballot harvesting, what you call ballot trafficking you know what do we do with this and if we’re going to use it to, you know, compete on an even playing field, how do we work to change it while we’re also using it? This just seems like a mess. Hoping you could straighten it out for us.
Hans von Spakovsky: 9:46
Well, you know, I would give you as an example the Super Bowl. Okay, assume you’re one of the teams that’s going into the Super Bowl, but you think that one of their new rules that has been set up by the league is a really bad rule. You think it’s unfair, you don’t think it’s a good rule and you’re doing everything you can to change it, but you can’t get it changed before. Before the big game, yeah, before the big game. So when you’re in the big game, obviously you’ve got to play by the rules that apply. Even the rule that you think is a bad rule and ought to be changed. That doesn’t mean that when the game is over, or before you even get into the game, you don’t keep trying to get it changed. And that’s what I’ve told people about ballot trafficking, which is what I like to call it, because that’s really what it is. Look, ballot trafficking is a bad idea for many different reasons. I think legislatures all over the country should ban it. I think they should prohibit it. But if you are in a state where it’s legal and you haven’t been able to get it changed, well, you’ve got to play by the rules and you should have your folks out trying to help people vote by collecting and delivering those ballots, particularly because, look, you know there may be bad people out there who go into particular neighborhoods that they know are going to vote for the other candidate and offer to pick up those ballots, just so they can throw them away. And you want to be sure you’re there doing that to try to prevent that from happening. What does it mean? That when the legislatures reconvene in January and remember, that’s the rule in most states, most states have part-time legislatures. They run usually from January through March or April that doesn’t mean that in January your state allows it. You shouldn’t then work hard to try to get it banned, but if it’s the rule in the upcoming election, then no, you need to play by the rules.
Rick Green: 12:07
Yeah, no, that makes perfect sense. You have to, otherwise you’re at a significant disadvantage. I think we— Right, yeah, and we did that over the last couple of years. In some areas People say, well, I’m not even going to participate because I don’t like the rules or they didn’t use the tools that were there with them. And where we saw people use the tools, like my buddy Jack Kibbs out at Calvary Chapel, chino Hills, man, they turned out thousands and thousands of votes by using the rules that they didn’t like, but using the rules that were actually in place. How much has this spread across the country? Do most states have this now?
Hans von Spakovsky: 12:40
No, about half the states allowed. The other half have banned it. And Arizona a couple of years ago. Arizona used to allow it and Arizona legislature realized it was not a good idea and so they banned it and they were sued by the Democratic Party. And that case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, with the DNC arguing that it was racially discriminatory for the state to ban ballot trafficking, and the Supreme Court said no, it’s not so. States that want to do this will be able to do it successfully. They may get sued after they banned it, but the Supreme Court has said no, you can do this.
Rick Green: 13:33
And I’m assuming they basically upheld the constitutional provision that legislatures get to decide election law and each state can do things a little different.
Hans von Spakovsky: 13:45
No, that’s exactly right, although a key factor in the Supreme Court’s decision was that this was a traditional practice and most states have banned this kind of thing for a long time, and the very fact that this was not something unusual, to ban this from happening, was a significant factor. By the way, that same case, the DNC sued Arizona, claiming that the fact that they won’t count somebody’s vote or ballot if they vote outside their assigned precinct was also somehow discriminatory, and the court said well, no, it’s not. That’s been the rule across the United States for decades.
Rick Green: 14:30
I wonder how racist the Democrats I guess they don’t realize how racist they are when, in all of these cases, they’re basically saying if you stop us from breaking the law, you’re being a racist. I mean, they just it defies common sense but they continue to do it and I would argue, in some cases the Supreme Court has sided with them and that Louisiana and what was the other state where they said you have to be a racist, you have to draw your congressional lines based on race, which I think is terrible, but off topic for today. In this particular topic, hans, how are you advising parties and groups out there to best use this tool while they have to? I can’t believe I’m even going to ask you that question, but this tool that we both think is a bad idea while it’s on the books, how do you best do this?
Hans von Spakovsky: 15:18
Well, you know I don’t help the political parties because we’re not partisan. But what I say to them is you want to be sure, look, there’s two. There’s two risky things that could happen with ballot trafficking, and that is the folks that are going to voters doors. One, pressure and coerce them to vote a particular way. And the other thing is that once they get the ballot in their hands, they try to open it up and maybe change the vote, or, if the vote is going to go the wrong way, they just throw it out. And that’s why you know if you’re a candidate of a particular political party. I think you want to be sure that you’ve got your folks going into the neighborhoods where your votes are the strongest, to be sure that you’ve got people in that neighborhood who aren’t going to do any of those illegal things. Yeah, they’re not going to pressure voters. They’re actually going to pick up the ballot without tampering with it and deliver it. And that’s the biggest thing I say is, yeah, take advantage of the rules, but be sure you do it legally. And if you go into a neighborhood and the voters says, oh well, somebody was already here who did that, you know, your first question should be well. Do you know who they were working for? And you should then check and see did that voter’s ballot actually get delivered? Because if it didn’t get delivered, that’s something that you should tell election officials about that. Hey, you should check with this voter. Their ballot never got delivered and it was picked up by someone working for this particular campaign.
Rick Green: 17:10
Yeah, I remember even I guess last year in California, when Jack Hibbs did this at the church at Chino Hills. They literally had people bring their ballots to church and they put them in lockboxes and they filmed every time it happened Like somebody had to bring a ballot. They literally had a camera and they made sure they documented everything, that there was no way it could be manipulated or any of those things. So exactly what you’re describing, that was what Jack did, nothing others across the country. And the last question I got for you is in the effort to change these laws and get it back to where we can have some faith in our elections and just have less opportunities for cheating. How is that going? As you watch and see some of these states that are struggling with this honestly, I mean I’m watching some what should be red states have trouble getting some of this stuff passed.
Hans von Spakovsky: 18:02
Yeah, that is a problem, but, on the other hand, we’re actually going to be in generally better condition than 2024 that we were in 2020. That’s good to hear. The one thing that the 2020 election did is it finally made a lot of state legislators realize oh, you know, we actually do have some holes in our system we need to fix. So, look, many states improved their systems. Look, georgia, as you know, for example, passed a huge number of reforms, reforms that so angered the left. The rubber Joe Biden the way to Atlanta to give a speech claiming that that they had implemented Jim Crow 2.0. That was not true and, in fact, they had record turnout at last year’s election with these reforms in place. But they, they did things like they extended their voter ID requirement, which just applied in person, voting to absentee ballots, which, given how many people vote absentee these days, I think every state ought to be doing that.
Rick Green: 19:08
How do you do that? How do you do voter ID with an absentee ballot? Do you have to have voter ID? Do you show your voter ID to get the ballot and then send it in later, or what do they do?
Hans von Spakovsky: 19:17
When you request an absentee ballot by filling out an absentee ballot form, when you mail it in, you submit with it either a photocopy of your photo ID or what they said like in Georgia was do you have a state driver’s license? Do you have a state voter ID card? Right in the serial number.
Rick Green: 19:41
I love it. Well that. I mean that just that’s just common sense. I mean that just makes sense that we would, we would do those kind of things and and should give all sides more confidence that only the people who should be voting are voting and only those votes are the ones that were counting. That that should be a that, that that’s right, universally agreeable to all citizens that want to have faith in the elections and have fewer people claiming cheating in the elections. Hod’s always good to have you, man. Thanks so much for your time today.
Hans von Spakovsky: 20:06
Sure thing Anytime.
Rick Green: 20:08
Stay with us folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
Tim Barton: 20:18
Hey, this is Tim Barton, with WallBuilders, and, as you’ve had the opportunity to listen to WallBuilders Live, you’ve probably heard the wealth of information about our nation, about our spiritual heritage, about the religious liberties, about all the things that makes America exceptional. And you might be thinking, as incredible as this information is, I wish there was a way that I could get one of the WallBuilders guys to come to my area and share with my group whether it be a church, whether it be a Christian school or public school or some political event or activity. If you’re interested in having a WallBuilders speaker come to your area, you can get on our website at www.WallBuilders.com and there’s a tab for scheduling and if you’ll click on that tab, you’ll notice there’s a list of information from speakers bios to events that are already going on, and there’s a section where you can request an event to bring this information about who we are, where we came from, our religious liberties and freedoms. Go to the WallBuilders website and bring a speaker to your area.
Rick Green: 21:19
We’re back on WallBuilders. Thanks for staying with us, back with David and Tim Barton Guys, I remember actually, on this, going back to what Tim was saying at the beginning of the program, people will say it so that you can go get grandma’s vote. You can’t get out of the house or she can’t leave, or whatever. And, granted, once in a while you have situations like that. I remember specifically in one of my counties where I served as state rep, we had a case, a situation, where a city council race turned into. This was 15, 20 years ago. They literally were going into nursing homes and basically fraudulently getting people to vote, basically taking their ballots, filling them out for them. They weren’t even cognizant in many cases of what they were voting for or who or anything. And you know, in a city council race in a small town you do that with 25, 30, 40 ballots, you turn an election and we ended up with Texas Rangers involved in the whole nine yards. So I think everything y’all said about it it can be abused. You have to look for ways to prevent that abuse and then look for ways you know right now to play the game as best we can according to the rules that they are in that particular area. So it’s man. It’s unfortunate that this is the debt. You know the hand we’ve been dealt, but here we are. We got to do the best we can with it, I think, hans is exactly right.
David Barton: 22:31
You play by the rules. If this is a Super Bowl and you don’t like the rules, it doesn’t matter what you like. You step on the field, you play the game according to the rules. Now let me kind of give an overview. Looking at this, real quick Found out there are 24 states that allow some type of ballot harvesting and that included California. And you mentioned earlier Jack Hibbs. Out of his church he had people in his church stop at service and he collected 20,000 ballots in his church and made sure they got delivered. You know he’s going to do all right. He actually filmed every ballot to make sure that you saw every ballot being deposited, watch the people fill it, sign it out. So ballot harvesting. In the same way, pastor Rob McCoy did that in three congressional districts. It’s largely believed that those three congressional districts that flipped and went in the Republican direction in the last cycle was largely because Rob McCoy went out there and organized church churches to do ballot harvesting and get those ballots and get them to the polls. Don’t allow any fraud to occur. So 24 states allow that. Now here’s where the other 26 are. There are 13 states that specify who may return the ballots. So some states say, hey, you can do it for your family, or if you’re the caregiver for someone who can’t drive, you can turn their ballot in. So it specifies very limited 13 states who can do it. One state explicitly says only the voter can return their ballot. 12 states don’t specify whether someone else can return the ballot. So those are the ones that are trying to get a ban on ballot harvesting because they don’t say anything about it right now. But about half the states have banned ballot harvesting. So that’s kind of where it is. You know, if this is an interest unit, it ought to be because it’ll affect the elections. You need to talk to your state legislator about what to do. But at the same time, if you’re in a state that allows ballot harvesting, man, go to Christian schools, go to churches, go to neighborhood school, everywhere you can, and pick up those ballots and make sure they get turned in.
Tim Barton: 24:23
With that you mentioned California with Jack Habs and Rob McCoy. It’s also worth pointing out that in New York there was some Republican gains because of ballot harvesting as well, and what is so interesting about this is, I think, new York and California are places that really conservatives and much of the nation would have written off thinking nope. New York it’s so liberal, california is so liberal, and yet the only reason that Republicans have the house right now, the only reason that Mike Johnson is a speaker of the house right now, is because of the gains that were made in New York and California for Republicans. Otherwise it very likely could have been Democrats that still had control of the house. So all that also confirms to me that we shouldn’t necessarily discount that in some of these stages where we can look and think, right, this is a really abominable rule that is happening. It doesn’t mean that we’ll never win again, as some people think, feel and argue. What it does mean is that as we fight to change this rule, we need to make sure we are engaging according to the rules. I’ve talked about this example before. I mean the Super Bowl was a great example from Hans, but I’ve mentioned like James Harden in basketball, james Harden wherein he would sweep his arm he has the basketball getting ready to shoot would sweep his arms down through the defender’s arms. He created the contact, but the rule was if the defender hits the guy’s arms while he’s shooting, then it’s a foul. It’s a ridiculous way that James Harden did it, but he took the role, he used it to his advantage and he went at the free throw line. Boo-cous of times. This is the reality. I think we have to start understanding and embracing if we’re going to start winning back some of these seats which we can, but we have to play by the rules until we can change the rules.
Rick Green: 26:04
Yeah, guys, I mean honestly, it’s just being wise, right. I mean it’s being smart about the situation we’re in, not being naive and not just checking out, as Tim said. You know, a lot of people are saying, oh, I’m just not even going to participate because they’re going to manipulate it, or they’ve got the ball at Harvard City, they’re going to cheat some other way. That’s a loser’s attitude and it’s not the right way. We should be like Joshua and Caleb and say, no matter what the challenges, god gave us a land, let’s go fight and let’s do our duty, regardless of what the outcome is. So appreciate it so much, guys. Thanks so much for listening today. Folks. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders.