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Bill Prohibiting Campaigns From Collecting Sealed Mail-In Ballots Proposed In Utah

Photo of ballot envelope.
Renee Bright / KUER
"Ballot harvesting" is when political organizations collect and turn in voters' ballots for them.

Utah state Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, plans to sponsor a bill that would prohibit organizations, like political campaigns, from turning in voters’ ballots for them. 

The process is known as ballot harvesting or collection, and campaigns usually use it as a way to increase voter turnout. Campaign members go to households that have requested but not turned in their mail-in ballots yet and offer to turn in the sealed ballots for them. 

“From a voter’s point of view, it may be taken as a kindness if someone offers to mail in or drop off a voted ballot (in its signed envelope),” wrote Wendy Underhill, director of the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures’ Elections and Redistricting Program, in a blog post.

But Weiler said he’s sponsoring this bill to help eliminate the possibility of fraud. 

For example, Weiler said, what if a voter gave their and their son’s ballot to a campaign member, and told them their son didn’t vote for that candidate? 

“Now I’ve got two ballots,” he said. “I know one of them is voting for my opponent. What if I forget to turn that one in? ... It's just a chain of custody issue.”

And, he said, although he thinks Utah’s elections are secure, prohibiting ballot collection will help people trust the process more. 

Weiler said he wants the bill to be passed in a special session in August so it could go into effect before the November election.

Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson

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