Republicans are finally waking up to the benefits of voting before Election Day. The Republican National Committee has announced the “Bank Your Vote” campaign to encourage voters to take advantage of their state’s options for pre-election day voting.
The program is a pivot from former President Donald Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in ballots, which may have suppressed potential Republican votes in the 2020 and 2022 elections. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said Republicans need to take advantage of early voting opportunities.
“It’s simple math: you want to get as many votes in before Election Day, but that certainly is a challenge if you have people in your ecosystem saying don’t vote early or don’t vote by mail, and those cross messages have an impact. I don’t think you’re seeing that heading into 2024,” McDaniel said in a conference call with reporters recently.
Early in-person voting at polling places is not much of an issue, but Republicans have been conditioned to be wary of mail-in ballots. Trump tried to distinguish between absentee and universal mail-in ballots, but the message was often confused, especially when Trump alleged that mail-in votes would be corrupted.
At a press briefing weeks before the November 2020 election, Trump said, “The (mail-in) ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anyone else.”
The often-repeated message had an impact. An ABC News/Washington Post poll four months before the election found that 78 percent of Trump supporters saw mail-in voting as “vulnerable to fraud,” while just 28 percent of Biden supporters believed that.
Consider what happened in Wisconsin, where Biden won by just 20,000 votes.
Trump and his supporters claimed fraud in Wisconsin, a state Trump won in 2016, because of an overnight surge in Biden votes. However, as Reuters reported, the jump in Biden votes “was because Milwaukee County, home to the largest city in the state of Wisconsin, reported its 170,000 absentee votes, which were overwhelmingly Democrat.”
The National Republican Party would rather switch strategies than continue that fight. “We’ve got to have a change of culture among Republican voters,” said Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
NBC News reported that Trump may also be coming around. “Although he continues to wrongly insist the 2020 election he lost was rigged, he has suggested the party needs to change its attitude toward early voting, and his campaign last month promoted a ‘ballot harvesting fund’.”
In states where ballot harvesting is permitted, volunteers can collect absentee ballots, ensuring maximum participation for those who want or need an alternative to Election Day voting.
Republican leaders have finally realized this about elections: voters like convenience and pre-election histrionics about fraud just suppresses the vote.