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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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Converting brain immune cells into neurons helps mice recover after stroke

Fukuoka, Japan – Researchers at Kyushu University have discovered that turning brain immune cells into neurons successfully restores brain function after…



Fukuoka, Japan – Researchers at Kyushu University have discovered that turning brain immune cells into neurons successfully restores brain function after stroke-like injury in mice. These findings, published on October 10 in PNAS, suggest that replenishing neurons from immune cells could be a promising avenue for treating stroke in humans.

Credit: Irie et al. PNAS 2023

Fukuoka, Japan – Researchers at Kyushu University have discovered that turning brain immune cells into neurons successfully restores brain function after stroke-like injury in mice. These findings, published on October 10 in PNAS, suggest that replenishing neurons from immune cells could be a promising avenue for treating stroke in humans.

Stroke, and other cerebrovascular diseases, occur when blood flow to the brain is affected, causing damage to neurons. Recovery is often poor, with patients suffering from severe physical disabilities and cognitive problems. Worldwide, it’s one of the most common causes for needing long-term care.

“When we get a cut or break a bone, our skin and bone cells can replicate to heal our body. But the neurons in our brain cannot easily regenerate, so the damage is often permanent,” says Professor Kinichi Nakashima, from Kyushu University’s Graduate School of Medical Sciences. “We therefore need to find new ways to replace lost neurons.”

One possible strategy is to convert other cells in the brain into neurons. Here, the researchers focused on microglia, the main immune cells in the central nervous system. Microglia are tasked with removing damaged or dead cells in the brain, so after a stroke, they move towards the site of injury and replicate quickly.

“Microglia are abundant and exactly in the place we need them, so they are an ideal target for conversion,” says first author, Dr. Takashi Irie from Kyushu University Hospital.

In prior research, the team demonstrated that they could induce microglia to develop into neurons in the brains of healthy mice. Now, Dr. Irie and Professor Nakashima, along with Lecturer Taito Matsuda and Professor Noriko Isobe from Kyushu University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, showed that this strategy of replacing neurons also works in injured brains and contributes to brain recovery.

To conduct the study, the researchers caused a stroke-like injury in mice by temporarily blocking the right middle cerebral artery – a major blood vessel in the brain that is commonly associated with stroke in humans. A week later, the researchers examined the mice and found that they had difficulties in motor function and had a marked loss of neurons in a brain region known as the striatum. This part of the brain is involved in decision making, action planning and motor coordination.

The researchers then used a lentivirus to insert DNA into microglial cells at the site of the injury. The DNA held instructions for producing NeuroD1, a protein that induces neuronal conversion. Over the subsequent weeks, the infected cells began developing into neurons and the areas of the brain with neuron loss decreased. By eight weeks, the new induced neurons had successfully integrated into the brain’s circuits.

At only three weeks post-infection, the mice showed improved motor function in behavioral tests. These improvements were lost when the researchers removed the new induced neurons, providing strong evidence that the newly converted neurons directly contributed to recovery.

“These results are very promising. The next step is to test whether NeuroD1 is also effective at converting human microglia into neurons and confirm that our method of inserting genes into the microglial cells is safe,” says Professor Nakashima.

Furthermore, the treatment was conducted in mice in the acute phase after stroke, when microglia were migrating to and replicating at the site of injury. Therefore, the researchers also plan to see if recovery is also possible in mice at a later, chronic phase.


For more information about this research, see “Direct neuronal conversion of microglia/macrophages reinstates neurological function after stroke” Takashi Irie, Taito Matsuda, Yoshinori Hayashi, Kanae Matsuda-Ito, Akihide Kamiya, Takahiro Masuda, Marco Prinz, Noriko Isobe, Jun-ichi Kira, and Kinichi Nakashima, PNAS,

 This work was supported by the Kaibara Morikazu Medical Science Promotion Foundation (to T.I.), a Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (B) JP18K14820 (to T. Matsuda), a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) JP21H02808 (to T. Matsuda), a Grant-in-Aid for Exploratory Research JP23K18451 (to T. Matsuda), the Takeda Science Foundation (to T. Matsuda), the Qdai-jump Research Program (Wakaba Challenge) of Kyushu University (to T. Matsuda), a research grant from The Noguchi Institute (to T. Matsuda), AMED JP21bm0404057 (to T. Matsuda and K.N.), AMED-CREST JP20gm1310008 (to K.N.), the Suzuken Memorial Foundation (to K.N.), the Naito Foundation (to K.N.), a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas JP16H06527 (to K.N.), JP16K21734 (to K.N.), and a Grant-in-Aid for Challenging Research (Exploratory) JP19K22473 (to K.N.).

About Kyushu University 
Kyushu University is one of Japan’s leading research-oriented institutes of higher education since its founding in 1911. Home to around 19,000 students and 8,000 faculty and staff, Kyushu U’s world-class research centers cover a wide range of study areas and research fields, from the humanities and arts to engineering and medical sciences. Its multiple campuses—including one of the largest in Japan—are located around Fukuoka City, a coastal metropolis on the southwestern Japanese island of Kyushu that is frequently ranked among the world’s most livable cities and historically known as Japan’s gateway to Asia. Through its Vision 2030, Kyushu U will ‘Drive Social Change with Integrative Knowledge.’ Its synergistic application of knowledge will encompass all of academia and solve issues in society while innovating new systems for a better future.

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@ the Bell: TSX sinks under mounting losses

Led by industrials and mining losses, Canada’s main stock index slid lower on Wednesday as the Middle East conflict weighed on sentiment.
The post @…



Led by losses among industrials and mining stocks, Canada’s main stock index slid lower on Wednesday. Fears of the escalated conflict in the Middle East weighed on global investor sentiment, while the market awaited domestic housing starts data. The energy market was the lone gaining sector.

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U.S. markets also dropped as earnings season gained steam and Wall Street looked ahead to key financial reports. Treasury yields also climbed to multiyear highs, putting pressure on equities.

TSX19,450.70-242.10TSXV525.84-12.09CSE168.29-8.87DJIA33,665.08-332.57NASDAQ13,314.30-219.44S&P 5004,314.60-58.60

The Canadian dollar traded for 72.94 cents US, compared to 73.29 cents US on Tuesday.

U.S. crude futures traded $1.51 higher at $88.17 a barrel, and the Brent contract added $1.45 to $91.35 a barrel.

The price of gold was up US$24.67 to US$1,949.33.

In world markets, the Nikkei was up 1.96 point to 32,042.25, the Hang Seng was down 40.82 points to 17,732.52, the FTSE was down 86.55 points to 7,588.66, and the DAX was down 156.78 points to 15,094.91.

The material provided in this article is for information only and should not be treated as investment advice. For full disclaimer information, please click here.

The post @ the Bell: TSX sinks under mounting losses appeared first on The Market Herald Canada.

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Jimmy Buffett’s cruise line makes a surprise expansion move

The upstart two-day cruise line is stepping up its competition with Royal Caribbean and Carnival and you don’t have to love his music to be excited.



While Jimmy Buffett may have passed away, his brand lives on.

The singer's Margaritaville brand has been used on everything from resorts to restaurants, to residential and retirement communities. Buffet's biggest hit has become a massive lifestyle brand because the singer has clearly established what his signature properties represent.

It's more than just the singer's fans supporting him. Buffett has won over people who like his laid-back take on life and want to experience it either on vacation, just for a meal, or even as a permanent residence.

The Margaritaville brand speaks to a certain way of living where you let things go, enjoy life, and maybe sip on a drink because, well, "it's 5 o'clock somewhere." Buffett's famed brand now also includes a cruise ship, the aptly-named Margaritaville at Sea Paradise.

That ship, which sails out of West Palm Beach sails mostly two-day itineraries. That makes it a draw for people who want a quicker getaway than Royal Caribbean (RCL) - Get Free Report and Carnival Cruise Line offers. Both of those cruise lines sail weekend itineraries out of multiple Florida ports offering 3-day Friday through Monday sailings.

Margaritaville at Sea's ship, which used to sail under the "Bahama Paradise" brand, joined Buffett's resort family in 2022. The ship was remodeled to add touches that theme it to the singer whose music also provides much of the night-time entertainment.

The cruise line offers very low prices that are generally much cheaper than Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line's (CCL) - Get Free Report shortest three- and four-day trips. Now, the cruise line has surprisingly purchased a second ship to expand its fleet.

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Singer Jimmy Buffett's legacy lives on in more than just his music.

Image source: Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Margaritaville at Sea buys former Costa ship

Before the covid pandemic and its partnership with the Margaritaville brand, Bahamas Paradise actually operated two ships sailing alternate days out of West Palm Beach. It sold the Grand Celebration during the cruise industry shutdown so it could focus on its other ship, the Grand Classica, which is now the Margaritaville at Sea Paradise.

Now, in a move that was not expected, the Buffett-branded cruise line has purchased a ship from China's Adora Cruises, a joint partnership between Carnival and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC). That ship, which once sailed as Costa Atlantica, has not sailed since being docked for the pandemic.

"Eagle-eyed observers who follow the cruise industry noticed in recent days that the vessel’s AIS (Automatic Identification System) signal switched identity to read MAS Islander. The cruise ship remains registered in the Bahamas and is still at dock with Carnival Corporation, however, it has confirmed that it has been sold. The AIS identity is a shortened version of Margaritaville at Sea Islander," Maritime Executive reported.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN? CARNIVAL? MSC? Let our travel agents help you book the perfect cruise at the best price.

The ship was built in Finland in 2000 and can carry 2,680 passengers. Margaritaville at Seas Paradise was also once a Costa ship. 

Buffett's brand's new ship is about twice as large as Paradise. That probably means it cannot sail out of West Palm Beach which does not have a dock large enough to handle the ship.

The cruise line has not shared any plans for its new purchase nor has it even confirmed the deal. 

Margaritaville at Sea did not immediately answer a request for comment sent to the media inquiry email listed on its web page. 

WHICH CRUISE LINE IS RIGHT FOR YOU? Our travel partners can help.

The company describes its cruises in the following way.

"From non-stop entertainment like 'Radio Margaritaville: Live at Sea' to Margaritaville-inspired food and beverage options enjoyed by spectacular ocean views, there are multiple ways for every traveler to relax, have fun, and drift into the vacation state of mind," the company shared on its website.


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