House Speaker Paul Ryan questioned the legitimacy of California’s ballot-counting process Thursday, adding to claims from many Republicans that the state’s election procedures are flawed.
“It defies logic to me,” Ryan told the Washington Post. “We had a lot of wins that night, and three weeks later we lost basically every contested California race. This election system they have, I can’t begin to understand what ballot harvesting is.”
"It defies logic to me. We had a lot of wins that night, and three weeks later we lost basically every contested California race."
"Ballot harvesting" is when a third party collects completed ballots from voters and hands them over to election officials. The practice was legal for the first time in California this year.
Ryan has not accused California of any wrongdoing.
Californa took longer than other states to finish counting ballots cast Nov. 6, prompting criticism from many Republicans. By Election Night millions of ballots that were mailed in still needed to be hand-counted.
Alex Padilla, the state's top election official, fired back at Ryan on Twitter, saying the state makes sure "every ballot is properly counted and accounted for. That’s not 'bizarre,' that’s DEMOCRACY.”
“It shouldn’t ‘defy logic’ that elections officials are meticulous in counting every eligible ballot,” Padilla continued, the Mercury News of San Jose reported. “California works to ensure every ballot is counted properly and every ballot is accounted for. In the most populous state in the nation — and the state with the largest number of registered voters — this takes time.”
Democrats flipped six House seats across the state on Election Night. Most of California’s outstanding ballots were those received by mail or received after Election Day. Others were provisional ballots, which are submitted when voters show up to the wrong polling location, or when their name isn’t on the rolls.
The state also allows same-day voter registration, adding to the number of ballots that needed to be verified and counted.
“The way the absentee ballot program used to work and works now, it just seems pretty loosey-goose,” Ryan said. “Point being, when you have candidates that win the absentee ballot vote, win the day of the vote and then lose three weeks later because of provisionals, that’s really bizarre. And so I just think that’s a very, very strange outcome.
“When you win the absentee ballots and you win the in-person vote, where I come from, you win the election,” Ryan added.
“When you win the absentee ballots and you win the in-person vote, where I come from, you win the election.”
In an email to supporters, Orange County Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker gave his account of what happened.
“The number of election day vote-by-mail drop-offs was unprecedented — over 250,000," Whitaker wrote, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "This is a direct result of ballot harvesting. That directly caused the switch from being ahead on election night to losing two weeks later.”
The Republican Party’s losses in the county were “catastrophic,” Whitaker said, referring to the once-reliability GOP stronghold that saw Democrats sweep House races, effectively turning the county blue.