Signs outside every physical polling place forbid electioneering. Each state has some form of restriction on political activities near polling locations when voting is taking place.
These restrictions are usually on the display of signs, handing out campaign literature, attempting to influence voters, or soliciting votes within a predetermined distance (typically 50 to 200 feet) of a polling place. A list of the specific electioneering prohibitions adopted by each state can be found here.
Opposition to electioneering is the main reason election integrity advocates oppose allowing political activists to provide food and water to voters waiting in line at polling places. What has been portrayed as a measure to starve and dehydrate suffering voters is really a commonsense prohibition against electioneering. Allowing such practices would allow anybody with a few water bottles or a bag of sandwiches an opportunity to harangue, harass, or otherwise intimidate voters who are waiting in line to cast their ballots.
But nobody has yet come to terms with a new type of electioneering that goes hand in hand with universal absentee voting. We call it “remote electioneering” and define it as an attempt to influence or solicit votes among absentee voters between the time they receive their absentee ballot and the time they submit it to their election office.
Obviously, the opportunities for what in normal circumstances would qualify as illegal electioneering multiply considerably with absentee voting, since there is no way of knowing the extent to which partisan activists attempt to influence the behavior of absentee voters.
CTCL’s Goal Was to Influence Absentee Voters
But we have a glimpse of the attitudes of Democrat election activists toward electioneering with absentee ballots through Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) documents, which outline the actions that the major recipients of their Covid-19 Response Grant Program would have to fulfill as conditions of keeping their grant money. By the admission of the activist election officials in Wisconsin who were funded by CTCL in 2020, absentee ballot electioneering was one of their major goals.
Grant recipients were required to “Encourage and Increase Absentee Voting (By Mail and Early, In-Person),” mainly through providing “assistance” in their completion and the installation of ballot drop boxes. They were also to “dramatically expand strategic voter education & outreach efforts, particularly to historically disenfranchised residents” in states such as Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which in 2020 were flooded with no-excuse absentee ballots for the first time ever.
We know that absentee ballot electioneering occurred in areas in these states where CTCL had a substantial presence because it was part and parcel of CTCL’s requirement that absentee voting be promoted, assisted, and increased. Ongoing contact between activist election officials and millions of new absentee voters was not only encouraged in areas that received big CTCL money, it was required.
Wisconsin Illustrates Extravagant Plans
The Wisconsin Safe Voting Plan, which served as the basic template for CTCL’s nationwide efforts during the 2020 election, provides documentation of their extravagant plans to use key election offices to electioneer the absentee vote that they were so intent on promoting.
Election officials in Wisconsin who were “on the street” had enough contact with voters to bemoan the fact that “countless [individuals]” in their municipalities attempted to submit cell phone “selfies” as valid photo ID. Explaining to them that this was not a valid form of photo ID and instructing them on how to properly submit valid ID reportedly “took considerable staff time and resources.”
If election officials had such knowledge, they must have had extensive contact with such low-information absentee voters while they were in the process of completing and submitting their ballots. If this were at the polling booth, it would qualify as illegal electioneering because election officials had “extensive contact” with in-person voters who were completing and submitting their ballots.
A great deal of concern was expressed about “Voters who, understandably, were completely confused about the timeline and rules for voting in the midst of a pandemic and required considerable public outreach and individual hand-holding to ensure their right to vote.” Figuratively “holding someone’s hand” as they cast a vote — whether absentee or in person — seems to be the very definition of electioneering.
The city of Green Bay planned to spend $45,000 to employ bilingual “voter navigators” to help residents properly upload valid photo ID, complete their ballots, comply with certification requirements, and offer witness signatures. But it would be illegal for poll workers to help voters complete their ballots when voting in person. Why should it not be illegal for partisan activists to help people complete their absentee ballots?
The city of Racine wished to create a corps of “vote ambassadors.” Racine officials said they would recruit, train, and employ such paid ambassadors to set up at the city’s community centers to assist voters with all aspects of absentee ballot requests. But how do we know that the diplomatic efforts of such “ambassadors” would not be exercised exclusively on behalf of their own partisan interests when “assisting” in the completion of absentee ballots?
Violating Voting Booth’s Sanctity
The sanctity of the voting booth used to be considered one of the sacred traditions of American democracy, as it protects the right of individuals to determine who will represent them in government. But the kind of Democracy™ that involves the indiscriminate mass mailing of no-excuse absentee ballots is a top-down endeavor, where most of the power, initiative, and agency is on the side of Democrat politicians and leftist election activists rather than voters.
Their plan is to influence, cajole, and incentivize the least civically engaged, least informed, most apathetic individuals within their jurisdictions to fill out absentee ballots in a way that validates the consolidation of Democratic Party power. Absentee ballot electioneering is the key to a more modern way of “stuffing the ballot box” in an era where activists have convinced a significant number of people that their voting rights have been fatally compromised if they are not permitted to cast a ballot in whatever way is most effortless for them.
The fact that opportunities for electioneering are so few at the polling place, and so plentiful during the time that elapses between the receipt of absentee ballots and their submission, suggests another reason those who wish to find new ways to interfere in legitimate elections are the most strident advocates of universal mail-in voting. It also provides yet another reason why people who believe in free and fair elections should spare no effort to resolutely oppose no-excuse absentee voting in 2022.