Originally Published: August 11, 2018 7:57 p.m.
Some people just cannot get to the polls at election time.
Historically, both Republicans and Democrats have worked to help people do so, in a way, by conducting a practice of “ballot harvesting” — the act of going into the neighborhoods and picking up early ballots and delivering them to the Elections Department.
In 2016, the Legislature passed a law outlawing the practice. In fact, getting caught committing this now-felony can come with penalties of a year in prison and a $150,000 fine.
While critics say the GOP-dominated state House and Senate had no proof tampering was happening — and lawmakers admitted as much — today more than ever it is easier to get your choices into the hands of those who count them: mail-in ballots.
That is why we believe current efforts to undermine this law should be thrown out of court, in addition to the fact that the latest challenge — before a federal judge — came two years after lawmakers inked the provisions. Where were they in 2016 or 2017?
Attorneys for a Democratic activist told the judge this past week her efforts to deliver ballots to polling places is rooted in legal and constitutional rights, namely a right to deliver mail and the First Amendment.
We don’t see it that way.
The mail-in ballots require only placement in the outgoing mail — at their home or business. And, the First Amendment does extend beyond the person who is speaking or writing (in this case, a ballot) to whomever delivers that communication (think: publishers); however, it is a leap too far to state that delivering a ballot is a matter of speech.
Arguments for the law in 2016 were to protect the integrity of the voting process against groups potentially refusing to deliver ballots if they believe that the votes inside were not in line with their own.
Early ballots already have gone out for the Aug. 28 Primary Election, and with the responsibility of voting — participating in our Republic’s democracy — comes the responsibility to deliver your choices appropriately.
If you forget or do not do so, that is your choice. Claims of voter suppression, or even tampering, are moot: we all have a responsibility.
Just put your completed ballot in the mailbox.
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