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Republicans Embrace Ballot Harvesting for 2024, Some Foresee Legal Battles

Republicans Embrace Ballot Harvesting for 2024, Some Foresee Legal Battles

Authored by Patricia Tolson via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),




Republicans Embrace Ballot Harvesting for 2024, Some Foresee Legal Battles

Authored by Patricia Tolson via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

After years of condemning ballot harvesting and early voting, Republicans are switching course for 2024 and embracing both policies wholeheartedly. The results, experts say, can bear good and bad consequences. Some foresee legal challenges.

"Ballot harvesting" is a practice where third-party individuals or organizations collect completed mail-in ballots and deliver them to election officials on a voter's behalf.

Filing boxes sit off to the side at an absentee ballot processing room at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Ga., on Nov. 2, 2020. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Hans von Spakovsky—Election Law Reform Initiative Manager and Senior Fellow at The Heritage—prefers to call the practice "Ballot Trafficking."

"You play by the rules that are in place wherever you are but that doesn't mean that you allow the status quo to stay that way," Mr. von Spakovsky told The Epoch Times.

He also suggested that the GOP's decision to play the ballot harvesting game should not stop voters from trying to convince their state legislators "to change the rules to get rid of ballot trafficking and allowing third-party strangers to go pick up a voter's ballot because the risks in allowing that are too great."

Heritage Foundation Election Law Reform Initiative Hans von Spakovsk at a Washington, D.C. event in October 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

"I don't see anything wrong with taking advantage of the rule if that's the rule in place but you should try to continue to change it," he said.

Since 1988, The Heritage Foundation's Election Fraud Database has documented over 200 cases of proven fraudulent use of absentee ballots. The largest number of confirmed mail-in ballot fraud cases, 36, occurred in 2022.

Ultimately, Mr. von Spakovsky isn't convinced that having both sides harvesting ballots will give either party an advantage.

"If one party takes advantage of the rules like that and the other doesn't then it might give that party a step up," he said. "But if both parties are taking advantage, I'm not quite sure how it would benefit one party or the other."

Chasing Ballots

By joining the ballot harvesting game in 2024, Sharon Demers sees the potential for both bad and good outcomes.

For the bad, she fears that, just as Republicans have spent years investigating and suing over alleged cases of voter fraud by Democrat operatives, Democrats will do the same. This, she warns, will cause the ever-lengthening election cycle to be followed by an equally protracted litigation season.

For the good, she believes it will help lead to victories that were lost simply because they didn't keep up with Democrats.

Ms. Demers, a Republican state committeewoman for Flagler County, noted that ballot harvesting is banned in the Sunshine State.

Sharon Demers, Republican State Committee Woman for Flagler County, drops her ballot in a drop box during the 2022 midterm elections in Flagler County, Florida (Courtesy of Susan Demers).

"You can knock on someone's door and encourage them to return their vote-by-mail ballot but they can't collect those ballots in Florida and deliver them to the Supervisor of Elections or a drop box," Ms. Demers explained.

"But if another state allows them to do this, we should do it. If it's legal," she said. "But if it's not legal Republicans shouldn't do it."

She also advised that Florida is open to what is called "chasing ballots."

Democrats are already chasing ballots, too.

According to NGP VAN, "the leading technology provider to Democratic and progressive campaigns," "ballot chasing" is a campaign to encourage voters to take advantage of their state's early voting schedule in order to "bank votes early" during an election cycle. Organizers can use voter rolls to locate electors who live near early voting locations. By way of phone banks, canvassing, or other outreach programs, organizers can encourage them to get out and cast their ballots.

As Ms. Demers noted, Democrats are known for their well-organized efforts of deploying organizers to pick people up in buses and vans to physically drive them to the polls.

"Those are things Republicans have been lazy about in some areas of the country, not getting out the vote and driving the vote, especially with the young people," she said, noting how younger voters get most of their information from social media.

"They aren't involved in politics and that's a group Republicans in general have ignored," she said.

'We Don't Have a Choice'

As founder of the America First P.A.C.T., Corey Gibson hopes to energize the youth the GOP has ignored.

"We have two choices," he told The Epoch Times. "Either we participate or we allow Democrats to thrive and win elections because they are ballot harvesting and we're not."

As Mr. Gibson told The Epoch Times in June, he has already assembled an "army of social media influencers."

"We're the first national ballot harvesting project," he said.

While also concerned that the GOP's new ballot harvesting endeavor could become "a legal vortex of doom," he said "the only thing we can do as conservatives is to pursue this in the most honest and transparent way possible so it's hard to look at our efforts and find shady business that makes it indefensible.

"The only other choice is to allow Democrats to take advantage of this tool and not participate out of stubbornness."

However, just as Mr. von Spakovsky suggested, Mr. Gibson said, "We want to ballot harvest until we can make it illegal to ballot harvest."

"The goal of conservatives is to have free and fair elections. Full stop. Period," he explained, saying conservatives "would rather lose an election fairly than to win by cheating."

"It's time for us to figure out if we want to win elections fairly or sit back and lose just because we're too stubborn and keep saying we don't believe in ballot harvesting," he said.

Mr. Gibson's greatest wish right now is that "the party structure would allow for a more unified, strategic approach on anything," because right now, "it's a hodge-podge of disagreeing tribes."

"For this to truly be effective," he said the GOP must have "good strategic leadership to initiate these programs."

'That's something Democrats do well that we don't," he said.

'It Will Be Very Messy'

Richard Frederick is the State Chair for RETHINK! GOP, an organization dedicated to "empowering voters through ballot harvesting, early voting programs and education."

For the past six or seven months he's been on the phone with voters from California to Nevada who are confused by the GOP's sudden switch to advocating practices they've condemned for years.

For years we had top people in the GOP screaming that 'this was illegal, you shouldn't be doing it, and the Democrats are doing things that are fraudulent,'" Mr. Frederick told The Epoch Times. "Now they're flipping and saying you have to vote early, you have to ballot harvest. So it's been very confusing to their voters."

Curiously though, he also says most of the voters he speaks with never understood why the GOP was so opposed to those practices in the first place.

"They never saw it as illegal. You had Trump, DeSantis, McDaniel, and other public figures saying it's illegal, and it wasn't illegal," he said. "Here in Nevada, we lost a ton of seats because of that. The Party shot themselves in the foot and the Democrats sat back and loved every minute of it because they knew they didn't have to worry about Republicans ballot harvesting."

Mr. Frederick then recalled how the GOP's opposition to early voting also cost Republicans in Nevada because the day before election day in 2020, they got "about a foot of snow."

"Most people didn't go out and vote. So all of those Democrats who mailed in their votes had the jump on everybody," he said.

He also believes the GOP will likely face endless lawsuits after "election season" simply because they aren't experienced with ballot harvesting.

While organizations like RETHINK! GOP, Turning Point USA, and American Majority "are moving forward with this on their own," he doesn't believe the GOP as an entity "will actuality do the things that need to be done simply because they don't know how."

"What will follow will be messy. It will be very messy, and it will drag on," he predicted. "While we were complaining that it took 45 days to get results in some states after the 2020 election, I think this time around it's going to be even longer.

By the Numbers

The National Conference of State Legislators shows that 31 states authorize someone other than the voter to return a ballot for them.

Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and West Virginia have essentially banned ballot harvesting in their states by limiting the number of ballots an individual may deliver on a voter's behalf. Florida and Louisiana only allow a family member to deliver a ballot on a voter's behalf. Oklahoma "prohibits ballot harvesting entirely.

Six months ahead of the November 2020 election, a Gallop poll showed that 64 percent of Americans favored the idea of mail-in ballots. Stark differences, however, were seen among voters according to their political affiliation. While 83 percent of Democrats expressed support for mail-in ballots only 40 percent of Republicans expressed the same sentiment. Among independents, 68 showed support.

Polling conducted by the Honest Elections Project in July and provided exclusively to The Federalist showed that 76 percent of voters surveyed believe “voting in person is better than voting by mail.” A majority, 73 percent, also “reject automatically sending ballots without a voter’s request,” and 74 percent said ballot harvesting “should be illegal.”

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/23/2023 - 17:05

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Are Voters Recoiling Against Disorder?

Are Voters Recoiling Against Disorder?

Authored by Michael Barone via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The headlines coming out of the Super…



Are Voters Recoiling Against Disorder?

Authored by Michael Barone via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The headlines coming out of the Super Tuesday primaries have got it right. Barring cataclysmic changes, Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be the Republican and Democratic nominees for president in 2024.

(Left) President Joe Biden delivers remarks on canceling student debt at Culver City Julian Dixon Library in Culver City, Calif., on Feb. 21, 2024. (Right) Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump stands on stage during a campaign event at Big League Dreams Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nev., on Jan. 27, 2024. (Mario Tama/Getty Images; David Becker/Getty Images)

With Nikki Haley’s withdrawal, there will be no more significantly contested primaries or caucuses—the earliest both parties’ races have been over since something like the current primary-dominated system was put in place in 1972.

The primary results have spotlighted some of both nominees’ weaknesses.

Donald Trump lost high-income, high-educated constituencies, including the entire metro area—aka the Swamp. Many but by no means all Haley votes there were cast by Biden Democrats. Mr. Trump can’t afford to lose too many of the others in target states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Majorities and large minorities of voters in overwhelmingly Latino counties in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley and some in Houston voted against Joe Biden, and even more against Senate nominee Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas).

Returns from Hispanic precincts in New Hampshire and Massachusetts show the same thing. Mr. Biden can’t afford to lose too many Latino votes in target states like Arizona and Georgia.

When Mr. Trump rode down that escalator in 2015, commentators assumed he’d repel Latinos. Instead, Latino voters nationally, and especially the closest eyewitnesses of Biden’s open-border policy, have been trending heavily Republican.

High-income liberal Democrats may sport lawn signs proclaiming, “In this house, we believe ... no human is illegal.” The logical consequence of that belief is an open border. But modest-income folks in border counties know that flows of illegal immigrants result in disorder, disease, and crime.

There is plenty of impatience with increased disorder in election returns below the presidential level. Consider Los Angeles County, America’s largest county, with nearly 10 million people, more people than 40 of the 50 states. It voted 71 percent for Mr. Biden in 2020.

Current returns show county District Attorney George Gascon winning only 21 percent of the vote in the nonpartisan primary. He’ll apparently face Republican Nathan Hochman, a critic of his liberal policies, in November.

Gascon, elected after the May 2020 death of counterfeit-passing suspect George Floyd in Minneapolis, is one of many county prosecutors supported by billionaire George Soros. His policies include not charging juveniles as adults, not seeking higher penalties for gang membership or use of firearms, and bringing fewer misdemeanor cases.

The predictable result has been increased car thefts, burglaries, and personal robberies. Some 120 assistant district attorneys have left the office, and there’s a backlog of 10,000 unprosecuted cases.

More than a dozen other Soros-backed and similarly liberal prosecutors have faced strong opposition or have left office.

St. Louis prosecutor Kim Gardner resigned last May amid lawsuits seeking her removal, Milwaukee’s John Chisholm retired in January, and Baltimore’s Marilyn Mosby was defeated in July 2022 and convicted of perjury in September 2023. Last November, Loudoun County, Virginia, voters (62 percent Biden) ousted liberal Buta Biberaj, who declined to prosecute a transgender student for assault, and in June 2022 voters in San Francisco (85 percent Biden) recalled famed radical Chesa Boudin.

Similarly, this Tuesday, voters in San Francisco passed ballot measures strengthening police powers and requiring treatment of drug-addicted welfare recipients.

In retrospect, it appears the Floyd video, appearing after three months of COVID-19 confinement, sparked a frenzied, even crazed reaction, especially among the highly educated and articulate. One fatal incident was seen as proof that America’s “systemic racism” was worse than ever and that police forces should be defunded and perhaps abolished.

2020 was “the year America went crazy,” I wrote in January 2021, a year in which police funding was actually cut by Democrats in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver. A year in which young New York Times (NYT) staffers claimed they were endangered by the publication of Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) opinion article advocating calling in military forces if necessary to stop rioting, as had been done in Detroit in 1967 and Los Angeles in 1992. A craven NYT publisher even fired the editorial page editor for running the article.

Evidence of visible and tangible discontent with increasing violence and its consequences—barren and locked shelves in Manhattan chain drugstores, skyrocketing carjackings in Washington, D.C.—is as unmistakable in polls and election results as it is in daily life in large metropolitan areas. Maybe 2024 will turn out to be the year even liberal America stopped acting crazy.

Chaos and disorder work against incumbents, as they did in 1968 when Democrats saw their party’s popular vote fall from 61 percent to 43 percent.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times or ZeroHedge.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/09/2024 - 23:20

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Veterans Affairs Kept COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate In Place Without Evidence

Veterans Affairs Kept COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate In Place Without Evidence

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),




Veterans Affairs Kept COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate In Place Without Evidence

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reviewed no data when deciding in 2023 to keep its COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place.

Doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in Washington in a file image. (Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

VA Secretary Denis McDonough said on May 1, 2023, that the end of many other federal mandates “will not impact current policies at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

He said the mandate was remaining for VA health care personnel “to ensure the safety of veterans and our colleagues.”

Mr. McDonough did not cite any studies or other data. A VA spokesperson declined to provide any data that was reviewed when deciding not to rescind the mandate. The Epoch Times submitted a Freedom of Information Act for “all documents outlining which data was relied upon when establishing the mandate when deciding to keep the mandate in place.”

The agency searched for such data and did not find any.

The VA does not even attempt to justify its policies with science, because it can’t,” Leslie Manookian, president and founder of the Health Freedom Defense Fund, told The Epoch Times.

“The VA just trusts that the process and cost of challenging its unfounded policies is so onerous, most people are dissuaded from even trying,” she added.

The VA’s mandate remains in place to this day.

The VA’s website claims that vaccines “help protect you from getting severe illness” and “offer good protection against most COVID-19 variants,” pointing in part to observational data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that estimate the vaccines provide poor protection against symptomatic infection and transient shielding against hospitalization.

There have also been increasing concerns among outside scientists about confirmed side effects like heart inflammation—the VA hid a safety signal it detected for the inflammation—and possible side effects such as tinnitus, which shift the benefit-risk calculus.

President Joe Biden imposed a slate of COVID-19 vaccine mandates in 2021. The VA was the first federal agency to implement a mandate.

President Biden rescinded the mandates in May 2023, citing a drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. His administration maintains the choice to require vaccines was the right one and saved lives.

“Our administration’s vaccination requirements helped ensure the safety of workers in critical workforces including those in the healthcare and education sectors, protecting themselves and the populations they serve, and strengthening their ability to provide services without disruptions to operations,” the White House said.

Some experts said requiring vaccination meant many younger people were forced to get a vaccine despite the risks potentially outweighing the benefits, leaving fewer doses for older adults.

By mandating the vaccines to younger people and those with natural immunity from having had COVID, older people in the U.S. and other countries did not have access to them, and many people might have died because of that,” Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine on leave from Harvard Medical School, told The Epoch Times previously.

The VA was one of just a handful of agencies to keep its mandate in place following the removal of many federal mandates.

“At this time, the vaccine requirement will remain in effect for VA health care personnel, including VA psychologists, pharmacists, social workers, nursing assistants, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, peer specialists, medical support assistants, engineers, housekeepers, and other clinical, administrative, and infrastructure support employees,” Mr. McDonough wrote to VA employees at the time.

This also includes VA volunteers and contractors. Effectively, this means that any Veterans Health Administration (VHA) employee, volunteer, or contractor who works in VHA facilities, visits VHA facilities, or provides direct care to those we serve will still be subject to the vaccine requirement at this time,” he said. “We continue to monitor and discuss this requirement, and we will provide more information about the vaccination requirements for VA health care employees soon. As always, we will process requests for vaccination exceptions in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies.”

The version of the shots cleared in the fall of 2022, and available through the fall of 2023, did not have any clinical trial data supporting them.

A new version was approved in the fall of 2023 because there were indications that the shots not only offered temporary protection but also that the level of protection was lower than what was observed during earlier stages of the pandemic.

Ms. Manookian, whose group has challenged several of the federal mandates, said that the mandate “illustrates the dangers of the administrative state and how these federal agencies have become a law unto themselves.”

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/09/2024 - 22:10

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Low Iron Levels In Blood Could Trigger Long COVID: Study

Low Iron Levels In Blood Could Trigger Long COVID: Study

Authored by Amie Dahnke via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

People with inadequate…



Low Iron Levels In Blood Could Trigger Long COVID: Study

Authored by Amie Dahnke via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

People with inadequate iron levels in their blood due to a COVID-19 infection could be at greater risk of long COVID.


A new study indicates that problems with iron levels in the bloodstream likely trigger chronic inflammation and other conditions associated with the post-COVID phenomenon. The findings, published on March 1 in Nature Immunology, could offer new ways to treat or prevent the condition.

Long COVID Patients Have Low Iron Levels

Researchers at the University of Cambridge pinpointed low iron as a potential link to long-COVID symptoms thanks to a study they initiated shortly after the start of the pandemic. They recruited people who tested positive for the virus to provide blood samples for analysis over a year, which allowed the researchers to look for post-infection changes in the blood. The researchers looked at 214 samples and found that 45 percent of patients reported symptoms of long COVID that lasted between three and 10 months.

In analyzing the blood samples, the research team noticed that people experiencing long COVID had low iron levels, contributing to anemia and low red blood cell production, just two weeks after they were diagnosed with COVID-19. This was true for patients regardless of age, sex, or the initial severity of their infection.

According to one of the study co-authors, the removal of iron from the bloodstream is a natural process and defense mechanism of the body.

But it can jeopardize a person’s recovery.

When the body has an infection, it responds by removing iron from the bloodstream. This protects us from potentially lethal bacteria that capture the iron in the bloodstream and grow rapidly. It’s an evolutionary response that redistributes iron in the body, and the blood plasma becomes an iron desert,” University of Oxford professor Hal Drakesmith said in a press release. “However, if this goes on for a long time, there is less iron for red blood cells, so oxygen is transported less efficiently affecting metabolism and energy production, and for white blood cells, which need iron to work properly. The protective mechanism ends up becoming a problem.”

The research team believes that consistently low iron levels could explain why individuals with long COVID continue to experience fatigue and difficulty exercising. As such, the researchers suggested iron supplementation to help regulate and prevent the often debilitating symptoms associated with long COVID.

It isn’t necessarily the case that individuals don’t have enough iron in their body, it’s just that it’s trapped in the wrong place,” Aimee Hanson, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge who worked on the study, said in the press release. “What we need is a way to remobilize the iron and pull it back into the bloodstream, where it becomes more useful to the red blood cells.”

The research team pointed out that iron supplementation isn’t always straightforward. Achieving the right level of iron varies from person to person. Too much iron can cause stomach issues, ranging from constipation, nausea, and abdominal pain to gastritis and gastric lesions.

1 in 5 Still Affected by Long COVID

COVID-19 has affected nearly 40 percent of Americans, with one in five of those still suffering from symptoms of long COVID, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Long COVID is marked by health issues that continue at least four weeks after an individual was initially diagnosed with COVID-19. Symptoms can last for days, weeks, months, or years and may include fatigue, cough or chest pain, headache, brain fog, depression or anxiety, digestive issues, and joint or muscle pain.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/09/2024 - 12:50

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