GOP Strategy For Encouraging Vote-By-Mail? Hoping Trump Doesn’t Talk About It

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COLUMBUS, GEORGIA - JUNE 10: Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to deliver remarks to the Georgia state GOP convention at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center on June 10, 2023 in Columbus, Georgia. On Fri... COLUMBUS, GEORGIA - JUNE 10: Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to deliver remarks to the Georgia state GOP convention at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center on June 10, 2023 in Columbus, Georgia. On Friday, former President Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury on 37 felony counts in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s classified documents probe. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Recognizing that the conspiracy theories Donald Trump pushed in 2020 to anticipate and then fight his election loss mostly suppressed Republican turnout at the polls, the Republican Party has been trying since the midterms to do some shameless about-facing and embrace early voting and vote-by-mail practices. The main thing standing in the way of their 180 has been Donald Trump.

After then-presidential candidates Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley began suggesting that Republicans should focus their energy beyond in-person Election Day turnout in late 2022 and early 2023, the Trump campaign’s official messaging platform quickly followed suite. In February 2023, the Trump campaign first signaled the Republican Party’s revised thinking on the issue of early voting with a fundraising email letting supporters know that Trump was going to start looking into “harvesting ballots in every state we can.”

Shortly after, the RNC launched a Bank Your Vote initiative, designed to encourage Republican voters to take advantage of early-voting opportunities in any state where such actions were legal. To give the new initiative some credibility, the RNC released a video in July of Trump announcing his support for such an endeavor. The hostage-style video featured a docile Trump who both demonized early voting practices as some sort of menacing threat to elections, while also encouraging Republicans to use them.

“Democrats and dangerous groups funded by the far left have simply focused on collecting ballots,” he said. “That’s all they wanted to do, collecting ballots.”

“But you know what? It turned out to be not such a bad idea,” he continued.

The initiative was the pet project of now-ousted RNC chair Ronna McDaniel and it has not been entirely clear whether the drive to encourage mail-in voting would continue after the Trump-backed purge of the RNC earlier this month. According to new reporting in the Washington Post Thursday, party officials are still trying to push the idea on Republican voters — while hoping that Trump just doesn’t talk about it.

Per the Post:

A person close to Trump said the hope is that Trump will largely leave the topic alone publicly and not sabotage the efforts. Campaign and RNC officials are citing comments he has made at times encouraging Republicans to vote by mail as long as it is legal, saying the other side does it. “He’s never going to embrace voting by mail for the whole country,” according to this person, who like some others spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private discussions.

Another adviser said that in conversations about mail-in voting, Trump says it is “fraudulent” and that “he’s suspicious of the postal workers, of anyone who could touch the ballot.”

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