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One of the areas this COVID-19 situation has exposed is just how critical it is to have clear, specific details provided in law when it comes to absentee voting.

All across the country, there is debate about ballot drop boxes and who can do what and when and where and — it’s exhausting.

So why not add to the conversation?

Here in Iowa Democrats are doing all sorts of ballot harvesting. The practice is legal in Iowa, according to one state legislator I spoke with.

Check out this post from the Polk County Democrats. The group announced it would have an official drive-thru ballot drop box located at a mosque in Des Moines. In addition, the Polk County Democrats will have free Bosnian gyros on both days.

Jamie Burch, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood, shared her excitement of voting on Twitter, noting that her husband took his ballot, her ballot, his father’s ballot and their neighbor’s ballot to the Polk County Elections office.

In addition, there are other events. There’s a ballot drop off at La Tapatia hosted by the Polk County Democrats…

And there’s a “secure ballot drop off” being promoted by the Ankeny Area Democrats.

These practices may be legal under Iowa law, but boy, they just don’t seem right. Allowing one of the political parties to gather ballots seems like it may create some kind of conflict of interest or open the door to a higher level of potential problems.

Of course, it is up to the voter to give the ballot to someone else. I seem to recall both Republicans and Democrats having to be present at polling locations on Election Day.

But what about these absentee ballot drop-off stations? Let’s say someone finds out there is free food available (come on, it’s literally THE first thing they teach in journalism — never turn down free food). Anyway, there’s a free gyro available if I go give these people my ballot.

I really don’t care about the whole voting thing, but I’d take a free gyro. The Polk County Democrats feed me, I fill out my ballot how they suggest, done deal.

That isn’t to say this is happening or will happen. I’m only suggesting it could happen.

Allowing other people to possess ballots that belong to other people just seems to put election integrity at great risk. It seems to threaten the idea of fair, honest and open elections.

I have serious reservations about this laissez-faire approach to turning in absentee ballots. Shortly after learning to never turn down free food, there was another lesson taught right away in journalism…if your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.

If the Polk County Democrats do these events, and I’m a Republican, I’m having someone there or very near recording everything that is happening. And the same goes when the shoe is on the other foot. If Republicans are collecting ballots and I’m a Democrat, I’d have someone recording every second of it.

Trust, but verify.

Jacob Hall

Author: Jacob Hall