2022 Election, Columnists, Elections, Featured, Jon Caldara, Uncategorized

Caldara: Want to win elections? Go harvest some ballots

(Editor’s note: You can listen to this column, read by the author, here.)

Conservatives concerned about the integrity of this fall’s Colorado election are working to get poll watchers and election judges to witness and record any mischief.

One big worry is ballot harvesting. Of course, there is one small problem. Ballot harvesting in Colorado is perfectly legal. Conservatives shouldn’t be angry it happens. They should be irate that their side doesn’t do it as well.

It takes a bit to explain, but to understand Colorado’s vote harvesting system is to understand why Democrats rule every lever of power in this once liberty-loving state.

Democrats created the system and do the long, hard, boring, expensive work to legally identify and reap ballots. Colorado is one of the rare states with all mail-in ballots AND same-day voter registration (meaning you could register and vote on the same day, even on election day).

Thanks to remarkably accurate consumer data, algorithms know exactly how you are going to vote. Don’t act like this freaks you out. You get micro-targeted all the time now from grocery store coupons to web ads.

My favorite story on how detailed political data is comes from when Mitt Romney was running for president. His opposition dug up the story of him driving with his dog on the roof of his car.

Even back then voter data was so good they targeted certain key voter demographics who owned dogs and sent them postcards of Romney driving a car with a dog on top to scare the dog lovers. It gets better. The data was so good they knew what kind of dog the voter had. If you had a poodle, there was a poodle on top of Romney’s car. Own a Labrador, it was a Labrador.

Point being…they know how you are going to vote.

Next point. Colorado doesn’t have an election day. It has an election month thanks to all mail ballots. After ballots are sent out the Secretary of State’s Office creates out a list of everyone who has returned their ballot. This publicly available list is updated daily.

So… if a well-run organization knows how any voter is going to vote, and every day they see who has voted, they know the exact running score of which candidates are winning and losing. Then it just becomes a ground game to get “your” voter to return a ballot.

If their data shows you’d vote their way, their job is to get YOUR ballot. And it won’t be by glitzy TV ads. It will be by someone, a human being, calling you, emailing you, maybe someone knocking on your door offering to take it for you. They may have a friend call and offer to pick it up. By law a person can bring in up to 10 ballots, as if there were any way to enforce such a law.

The “creepy letter” technique is when some civic-sounding organization sends you a letter saying they are going to publish who has and has not voted in your neighborhood, and you are the only one who hasn’t yet. The intent of this lie is to bully you to return your ballot.

If their score keeping still shows that their candidate is behind by an attainable number of votes in a district, but there might not be enough of “their” voters to harvest, that’s when same-day registration comes in.

They use the data to find folk that aren’t registered, but only IF they would vote their way. So, they go register them! This is particularly doable in college areas where there are a lot of out-of-state, liberal kids. A recent Colorado law requires voting centers on most college campuses for just this purpose. They think of everything.

You might not like this system, but it is the legal system here so stop complaining and deal with it.

Progressives are the masters of this system. They should be. They built it. They have the foot soldiers, like union members and paid activists, to get the hard job done.

The encouraging news for the right in Colorado is they can master it too.

Of course, that means investing in the foot soldiers and systems to do the ugly, hard, physical work of calling, driving and knocking.

You could do your legal part by collecting nine other ballots by like-minded folks who don’t normally vote.

Embrace vote harvesting to win.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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