Can I drop off a ballot for someone else?
In most states, the answer is yes, but there may be restrictions.
For example, some states, such as Arizona, only allow caregivers, family members, or household members to drop off a ballot for someone else. Other states, like Californiaallow anyone chosen by the voter to send in a ballot, as long as they are not paid per ballot they collect.
Some states require designated agents to sign a document confirming that they have the authority to serve someone’s ballot. And some states explicitly prohibit leaving someone else’s ballot. Other states do not have ballot collection laws.
In total, more than half of the states have laws that explicitly allow a third party to return a completed ballot, according to a recount from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Laws allowing ballot collection are designed to make voting more convenient and so that people who cannot travel can drop off a ballot on their own. Political groups and campaigns from both parties have conducted ballot collection programs with the goal of increasing turnout and helping older, homebound, disabled, or rural voters retrieve their ballots.
However, in 2020, when mailbox usage skyrocketed due to the coronavirus pandemic, some criticized the practice. Former President Donald Trump and others argued that ballot harvesting, often pejoratively called “ballot harvesting,” increased the risk that someone would try to illegally vote on behalf of someone else or force them to vote in a certain way. surveysafter the elections 2020 found that voters who voted for President Joe Biden were much more likely to report voting by mail than voters for Trump.
Election security experts say voter fraud is rare among all forms of voting, including by mail and drop boxes. They point to a 2018 congressional election in North Carolina, when a Republican political operative and his staff illegally collected ballotsand forged signatures, as one of the few cases of voter fraud related to ballot harvesting. That election was overturned.
After the 2020 elections, a discredited film claimed without evidence that a multi-state network of Democratic-aligned ballot “mules” was paid to illegally collect and deliver ballots in five states. But the film showed no evidence that the people it showed in the surveillance tapes were part of a voting scheme, and a state investigation found that at least one person who appeared in the film was legally drop off ballots of family members. The film also took aim at cell phone geolocation data, which experts say is not accurate enough to identify whether someone used a mailbox or simply traveled near it. Mailboxes are often intentionally placed in high-traffic public spaces.
an associated press poll in May 2022 found that among the states that used drop boxes in the 2020 presidential election, none reported cases of drop boxes involved in fraud that could have affected the results.
The AP answers your questions about the election in this series. Send them to: FactCheck@AP.org.
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