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PHOENIX, March 20 – Before S1340 (voted early ballots; delivery; identification) was defeated yesterday in elect, State Election Director Eric Spencer defended its goal of allowing only immediate family members and candidates to collect early ballots and deliver them to election officials. Spencer said the bill, as amended in committee, makes no judgment on the motivation of individuals or groups that engage in ballot harvesting. He noted that PCs also actively collect ballots, just as get-out-of-the-vote groups do. “It’s not a negative connotation on them. It’s more so a reality that that ballot is so important and so sacrosanct, that shouldn’t we have some modest control on who can collect it?” he said. To illustrate his point, Spencer said incredible controls are in place to handle ballots cast on Election Day, and yet no strict requirements apply to early ballots before they are cast. That, he said, is an anomaly. Spencer also disagreed with the premise that that there’s no need for the legislation since election officials have found no cases of fraud associated with ballot harvesting in Arizona. While no concrete documentation of fraud exists, folks on both sides of the debate acknowledge that there are “legions of anecdotes” about ballot fraud, he said. It’s difficult to locate concrete examples of such fraud because ballot harvesting is legal in Arizona, he added. “Just because there [are] not legions of documented evidence doesn’t mean it’s not going on,” Spencer said, calling the proposed legislation a “prophylactic” measure. “I also disagree with the premise that there must be some documented scandal in order to prompt legislation,” he said. Finally, Spencer pointed to 33 other states that have adopted some form of regulation on delivering early ballots. California has a similar law to S1340 on its books and California is known for having permissive voting laws, he said. “No one can accuse California of being a state that tramples on citizens’ rights and the ability to participate in democracy,” he said.