June 11, 2020
By Bruce S. Marks and Mike Roman
“El Nuevo Metodo de Votar.” The year was 1993. Control of the Pennsylvania state Senate turned on a special election in Philadelphia. Although the district was heavily Democratic, the Republican was running a strong campaign, with organized labor and minority support. In desperation, the Democratic machine’s operatives descended on the District to steal the election by manipulating Latino voters into signing absentee ballot applications, falsely claiming a “new method of voting” — voting absentee for convenience — then illegal in Pennsylvania if one could go to the polls. Democratic city election officials then illegally provided the ballots to the operatives directly — instead of mailing them — to “help” voters in choosing their candidate and allowing operatives to return the ballots themselves — again illegal.
Campaign workers were paid for each absentee ballot application and illegal vote harvested. In some cases, workers voted the ballots without the voters even seeing them. Hard to believe? After months of legal battle, a federal judge issued a landmark decision finding that candidate William Stinson and the Philadelphia city officials engaged in massive fraud involving thousands of illegal votes, removed the Democrat from office, and instated the rightly elected Republican as senator. A dozen campaign workers were convicted of election fraud. We should know. Bruce Marks was the candidate, and Mike Roman ran his ballot security operation.
Since 1993, many states have tried to increase voter participation by allowing mail ballots for all voters — not just those away from polling places on Election Day or having medical reasons. Today, some states essentially conduct all voting by mail. There are strong arguments against universal mail voting. For one, it encourages voting too early. Take this year’s California Democratic primary, where hundreds of thousands of votes were cast for Amy Klobuchar and other candidates before they dropped out on election eve. Mail voting also marginalizes Election Day “politicking” and may delay results. These problems are even greater than the threat of election fraud. States like Pennsylvania require ballots to be mailed or given to voters directly or through family members and returned through the same means. This prevents voters from harassment and undue influence.
In contrast, some states allow “ballot-harvesting” — the dubious practice by which political operatives are permitted to visit voters and pick up and return their ballots. Needless to say, this greatly increases the threat of improper pressure. For obvious reasons, states prohibit campaign workers inside voting booths. Why should workers be permitted to “assist” in voting and returning mail ballots from home? Foxes do not belong in henhouses. But this is what happens; once ballots are mailed, workers knock on doors and pester voters to return them filled in the “right” way, with no safeguards. Already in Texas, harvesters, known as “politiqueras,” have been convicted for bribing voters with cigarettes, beer, and even drugs to get control of their ballots. In Florida, misconduct by “boleteros” — balloteers — in Miami resulted in legislative reform limiting third parties from possessing absentee ballots. Most recently, in 2019, a Republican operative was arrested for improper harvesting in a North Carolina congressional election.
Now Democrats are claiming that ballot-harvesting is needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2020 election. Nothing could be more untrue. Already, the U.S. Postal Service has alerted New Jersey election officials of thousands of “harvested” ballots being dumped in mailboxes while voters report ballots being stolen from their homes. America does not need politiqueras, boleteros, and other paid-by-the-vote mercenaries interfering in ballot integrity, pressuring voters, and violating social distancing standards.
“Get rid of ballot harvesting, it is rampant with fraud,” President Trump recently tweeted. He should know. In 1994, Trump headlined a re-election fundraiser for Bruce Marks and learned all about “El Nuevo Metodo de Votar.” It stuck with him. Let’s not repeat these mistakes in the 2020 election. If citizens wish to vote by mail, there need to be safeguards in place. Do not literally open the doors of voters to allow ballot harvesting to steal the presidential election in the guise of increased participation.
Bruce S. Marks is a former state senator from Pennsylvania and represented the Trump campaign in the 2016 election. Mike Roman is director of Election Day operations for the 2020 Trump campaign.