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Supreme Court: Ballot harvesting ban continues to be enforced in Arizona

Posted: 6:57 PM, Nov 07, 2016
Updated: 2016-11-08 05:06:52Z

A weekend of legal wrangling has caused massive confusion over ballot harvesting.

Ballot harvesting is when someone picks up the early ballots from a group of voters and drops them at the polls for them. Arizona outlawed the practice, but over the weekend the federal courts bounced back and forth and whether the Arizona law is constitutional.

For about 18 hours over the weekend ballot harvesting was legal. Then, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the Arizona law. Long story short, ballot harvesting remains a felony for the purposes of tomorrow’s election.

But, election officials said people still need to turn in any ballots harvested during the 18 hour period when it was legal.

Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said poll workers can’t legally turn away any ballot – regardless of how it arrives at the ballot box.  Further, she said her department isn’t responsible for enforcing the ballot harvesting law in the first place.

“Wouldn't it be illegal to keep those ballots out? These are people who, in good faith, voted and handed you their ballot. You better turn it in,” said Purcell. “There's really not anything in the law that talks bout the enforcement. It just says it's a felony.”

Meantime, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said it will investigate any complaints of voter harvesting submitted by law enforcement. Those last two words are the key. 

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office does have an election enforcement team, but said the harvesting law is almost impossible to enforce because once the ballots are dropped in the box there's no way to investigate further. 

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