There is little opportunity for urban-dwelling progressives to engage in horticultural activity. To compensate for this, each fall, at election time, many of them harvest ballots.
Politics is a quasi-religion for progressives and voting is like a sacrament to them. Hence their get-out-the-vote crusades. They are especially keen to make casting a ballot as easy as humanly possible. In California we have motor-voter registration where the Department of Motor Vehicles facilitates the voter registration process when issuing or updating driver license information. Democrats, have strongly opposed requiring voters to present proof of their identification when casting their ballot. Never mind that one is required to present a form of identification to lodge at a hotel, board a plane, or mail a parcel. For progressives, any inconvenience – including the inconvenience of obtaining a free state-issued identification – that stands in the way of a citizen, and in some cases non-citizens, from exercising the sacrament of voting is a sacrilege.
Another innovation in our election process is the mail-in ballot. This innovation allows the voter to vote from the convenience of their own home, without the need to walk or drive to the local polling station. A very important political strategy in California is to encourage registered voters to receive mail-in ballot; this has led to more than 50% of ballots in the state being cast by mail.
Why are progressives so keen on creating a frictionless voting process whereby the least interested, motivated and informed among us can effortlessly casts a ballot? Clearly progressives believe those sorts of people will vote with them.
But even this has fallen short of progressive’s goals. Because after getting these voters registered and getting the ballot mailed to the registered voters’ home, many voters still fail to complete their ballots. Further, there is no guarantee that the voter will complete the ballot, ahem, “properly.”
To remedy this problem progressives have pioneered the practice of ballot harvesting. Ballet harvesting is when a political volunteer (i.e. progressive) knocks on the door of a registered voter who received a mail-in ballot and offers to complete the ballot on the voters’ behalf.
In the 2018 election, wealthy urban progressives on the coast of California used ballot harvesting to turn red congressional district in Central California blue. Virtually all coastal congressional districts are safely blue. So there is little need to get out the vote in those districts. Not content with selecting their own representatives, these progressives also feel they are divinely appointed to select the representatives of those in the farming communities of Central California. So by the hundreds, progressive drove their air-conditioned Priuses and Teslas to harvest the ballots of disinterested voters in the Central Valley. The goal: elect progressive representatives in those districts who will push progressive policies like green energy and the requirement that public companies have more female board seats – policies that are important for progressives living on the coast but meaningless to a farm worker in Turlock California who, because of the high cost of electricity, cannot afford air conditioning and is hoping the robots developed by progressives in Silicon Valley don’t eliminate his $15 per hour job.
If this seems like exploitation and the disenfranchisement of the poor and uneducated, that’s because you don’t think like a progressive. To the progressive, the poverty and the poor state of the vote harvestee’s education is a form of “social injustice” caused by white supremacy. The cure is electing people who will give us green energy and make sure we have equal representation of progressive women in the board rooms of corporate America. That last sentence was meant to be sarcastic. Progressives sincerely believe their brand of socialism will address the needs of the poor. Let’s leave the question of whether they actually would or not aside for the moment. Let’s instead continue to focus on the merits of the poor voting by proxy through wealthy progressives. Is this election innovation likely to lead to better political outcomes for the sorts of people progressive purport to be helping when they harvest their vote?
Ballot harvesting leads to what we’ll call here, a meta-representative form of government. Instead of people voting for their representatives, they have unelected representatives represent them at the ballot box to vote for them. This is one step further from pure democracy. This means citizens are one step further from needing to be informed about the issues that effect them. In a meta-republic, politicians have no need to appeal to meta-voters (i.e. the harvestee), they need only appeal to voters, ballot harvesters and would-be ballot harvesters. This can only skew policy in the direction away from the interests of the meta-voter (i.e. the poor).
This may help explain the sharp turn to the left of the Democrat’s 2020 presidential candidates. How do any of the radical policies on display at the first round of debates help poor meta-voters progressives purport to care about? Open borders may appeal to wealthy Silicon Valley types but they do nothing to help low income and unemployed meta-voting blacks and hispanics in Stockton, California and West Oakland. Free healthcare for undocumented immigrants takes away resources that might otherwise be available for the meta-voters of South Central Los Angeles or Bakersfield who are living here legally. Abortion rights for trans females who do not have uteruses is not a pressing issue for hispanic meta-voters in Lodi, California trying to afford the most expensive gasoline in the country so he can get to his job picking avocados so he can feed his wife and three children.
Ballot harvesting, like so many ideas of the progressive left, is a bad idea that harms rather than helps poor people and minorities. It shifts political power away from meta-voters and hands it to politically motivated, well-educated progressives whose economic interests and priorities are far different from those of the meta-voter.