WSJ Editorial Board: Rhode Island's senior ballot harvest

Here's a case study in the voting future as a politician targets the elderly

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Rhode Island holds its legislative primary on Tuesday, and already there are allegations of ballot harvesting and election fraud—by a Democrat against another Democrat.

In July Rhode Island entered a consent decree with progressive groups suspending its legal requirement that voters complete mail-in ballots before two witnesses or a notary. Liberal groups claimed the state law could endanger the health of the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions because they might have to invite outsiders into their homes to vote.

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Republicans challenged the consent decree, which they claimed would facilitate ballot fraud. The First Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, and the Supreme Court last month refused to intervene. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said they would have stayed the decree.

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Fast forward a few weeks, and progressive state Sen. Sam Bell is accusing his primary challenger, Providence City Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan, of election fraud and preying on seniors. Rhode Island lets voters who miss the deadline to apply for mail-in ballots to authorize a surrogate to pick up and return a ballot for them.

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