The top election officials in Pima and Maricopa counties say they will not enforce a new state law that makes “ballot harvesting” a crime. “We’re not police,” said Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson. “People bring early ballots to us, we’re going to process them like we always have,” said Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell. And that means whether someone brings in their own ballot — or a basket full of them. Potentially more significant, both Nelson and Purcell said they will not take down the names of those who show up with multiple ballots. The law that takes effect Saturday makes it a felony, punishable by a year in state prison, to knowingly collect blank or filled-out early ballots from another person. Rebecca Wilder, spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, said the only way for her office to bring charges against someone for violating the law is if there is first a report to prosecutors from a law enforcement agency. If election officials do not take names, there is nothing to provide to police and, therefore, nothing to report to prosecutors.
Nelson said his decision not to turn away baskets of early ballots — and not to report those who carry them — is in line with his reading of the law.
There were early versions of the legislation that would have required poll workers to note who was arriving with multiple ballots, he said. “That is not in the current law,” Nelson said.
Nelson sketched out a scenario where he might be working at a polling place. “In comes a person with a mail tray full of early ballots to drop off,” he said. “We are going to accept those things,” Nelson said. “We are not going to ask for ID from that courier, for lack of a better term. We’re not going to log his or her name.”