One of the biggest stories of the 2018 election was the complete Republican collapse in California, despite most of the contested races being declared for the Republican candidates on Election Day.
An even bigger story? California Democrats used a shady new election law that could have led to thousands of fraudulent ballots being cast.
“Ballot harvesting,” which was passed in 2016 but first used in the 2018 election, allows voters to give any third party their vote-by-mail ballot, in order to turn it into a polling place.
More than 250,000 votes in Republican-leaning Orange County alone were cast through “ballot harvesting,” likely costing 4 Republicans their seats.
“The number of Election Day vote-by-mail dropoffs was unprecedented — over 250,000,” Fred Whitaker, chairman of the Orange County Republican Party, explained. “This is a direct result of ballot harvesting allowed under California law for the first time. That directly caused the switch from being ahead on election night to losing two weeks later.”
Washington Republicans were also stunned by the impact of the California ballot harvesting law–including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
“We were only down 26 seats [nationally] the night of the election and three weeks later, we lost basically every California race,” he said. “Point being, when you have candidates that win the absentee ballot vote, win the day of the vote, and then lose three weeks later because of provisionals, that’s really bizarre.”
Some California Republicans even reported that ballot harvesters came knocking on their doors multiple times, but only offering to “harvest” the ballots of people who were registered Democrats or unaffiliated with either party.
Democrats, however, have attributed it to a strong “ground game.”