Donald Trump leads a Republican change of heart on mail-in ballots – Despite the use of mail-in ballots in 2020 helping lead to the ex-president’s defeat, Republicans are rethinking their opposition to such forms of voting, believing they could be necessary to win in the future.
Donald Trump: The King of Mail-In-Ballots?
In 2020, amid the depths of the COVID pandemic, many states passed laws that made it easier to vote, including through mail-in ballots, early voting, and other more modern methods of voting, in order to make voting safe in pre-vaccine pandemic conditions.
These states weren’t necessarily all Democrat-leaning — Texas, for instance, expanded early voting — but the results were significant: Not only were voter turnout records broken, but Democrat Joe Biden succeeded in defeating Donald Trump and winning the presidency.
This has also created a dynamic in which Democrats were more likely to vote by mail or early, with Republicans more likely to vote in person on election day. And in the 2022 midterm elections, Democrats performed much better than expected, holding the Senate and losing fewer House seats than was forecasted.
In 2020, about 60 percent of Democrats in the country voted by mail, while only 30 percent of Republicans did; the numbers had been roughly even four years earlier.
After the midterms, there was Republican disagreement on how to respond. Some argued that mail-in voting is part of elections not being secure enough, while others maintained that the GOP should embrace voting that way if they want to win. There were also indications that the conspiracy theories had hurt Republican faith in early voting, which ultimately hurt the party’s chances in the midterms.
Former President Donald Trump, after more than two years of arguing that mail-in votes were part of the different conspiracies that caused him to lose in 2020, appears to have converted to the latter position.
According to the Wall Street Journal, while Trump “remains critical of various forms of early voting, advisers say, his campaign is nonetheless mounting an effort to pursue such votes after Democrats excelled at doing so in recent elections.” Trump’s team, the Journal said, is studying state laws about how ballot collection and mail-in voting work.
The Journal cited a recently sent fundraising email from Trump, in which he continued pushing the 2020 conspiracy theories while at the same time calling for the GOP to embrace the use of mail-in ballots.
“The radical Democrats have used ballot harvesting to cancel out YOUR vote and walk away with elections that they NEVER should have won. But I’m doing something HUGE to fight back,” the fundraising email, in Trump’s voice, said. “Our path forward is to MASTER the Democrats’ own game of harvesting ballots in every state we can. But that also means we need to start laying the foundation for victory RIGHT NOW.”
A Big Change for MAGA
Donald Trump had hinted at this in a Breitbart News interview late last year, in which he argued that the GOP must “live with the system that stinks.”
Other Republicans, including some in Pennsylvania after that state’s candidates for governor and senator were wiped out in 2022, had been pushing for a pivot when it comes to mail-in voting. There have been similar sentiments expressed by Republicans in other swing states, like Arizona and Michigan, where Democrats succeeded in both 2020 and 2022.
“There’s no question in my mind that Republicans have to have a different mail-in strategy,” Andy Reilly, a Republican National Committeeman in Pennsylvania, told Politico this week. “When one party votes for 30 days and one party votes for one, you’re definitely going to lose.”
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Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.