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California Republicans embrace ballot harvesting practice: 'Adapt or die'

The practice appears to have helped at least two newly elected Republican house members win their seats

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Updated: November 16, 2020 - 10:06am

President Trump and other Republicans have railed against ballot harvesting, but the California GOP is using the election tactic and says it helped flip seats on Nov. 3.

After losing a handful of House seats in the 2018 "Blue Wave" election cycle, the California GOP decided to embrace ballot harvesting – which involves a third party collecting ballots completed by voters and delivering them to election officials.

Some states restrict such deliveries to a voter's relatives or caretakers. In Arizona and North Carolina, it is a felony for anyone other than the voter to be in possession of the ballot. However, a 2016 California law changed the application of the practice for the West Coast state. 

That decision appears to have provided valuable assistance to Republican candidates Michelle Steel and Young Kim, both of whom won their congressional races, respectively in California's 48th and 39th districts.

Shawn Steel, husband to the newly elected Michelle Steel, and member of California's Republican National Committee, said a majority of Republican political activists prefer to cast their ballots on Election Day, but amid the coronavirus pandemic "those days are over, they are gone."

"We have to adapt or die," Steel said. "We have a new environment and we just have to gin it up and play by the rules."

Many Republicans still oppose the practice, saying it is immensely susceptible to voter fraud. Just last week, senior Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said "Democrat ballot harvesting is a massive concern in Georgia."