Former Clinton-era House Speaker Newt Gingrich is adamant that the key to Republicans winning future elections is for the GOP to embrace mail-in-voting.
Speaking on Fox News’s “Hannity” this Tuesday, he stressed that “you have to play the game by the rules that are existing.”
“That means, for example, if you want Generation Z voters, you’ve got to be on TikTok, even if, in fact, in the long run, we may abolish TikTok as a Chinese communist device. It means that you have to recognize early voting. It doesn’t do Republicans any good to save their TV money until October if they’ve had a third of the vote come in in September,” he explained.
“And if people are going to have early voting, the huge advantage of early voting is unless you know who to focus on, because they haven’t voted yet, and let me just point out, Democrats focus on elections, Republicans focus on campaigns. Democratic consultants ultimately are paid to win elections. Republican consultants are paid to buy TV ads for campaigns. Very different models. And as I’ve indicated … we need to really rethink from the ground up,” Gingrich added.
This strategy differs sharply from that of former President Donald Trump, who wants to ban all mail-in-ballots and have just paper-ballot elections going forward.
“We should go to paper ballots like they did in France. Thirty-six million people [voted] and they had no disputes. Everyone had paper ballots, and it was one-day voting. They didn’t store them over there in the corner, and you see the boxes moving all over the place,” he said in an interview two months ago.
States “should go to one-day voting. They should go to paper ballots. And you would have elections that everybody could be proud of. Because right now, this country is a laughingstock all over the world. They’re laughing at our stupid elections,” he added.
Trump doubled down in a Truth Social post published last month.
“REMEMBER, YOU CAN NEVER HAVE FAIR & FREE ELECTIONS WITH MAIL-IN BALLOTS – NEVER, NEVER, NEVER. WON’T AND CAN’T HAPPEN!!!” he wrote.
But critics like Arthur Herman of the Hudson Institute say mail-in ballots will probably never be banned outright, ergo why it’s necessary for the GOP to adapt now before it’s too late.
“Early voting and mail-in balloting have irrevocably changed things. Election Day no longer counts as it once did. Yet Republicans continue to rely on a massive Election Day turnout to prevail, while conceding the rest of the electoral terrain to Democrats. When Democrats win, some Republicans blame election fraud or unfair practices instead of their own failure to adjust their ground game, Herman writes for The Wall Street Journal.
“In fact, the more that Republicans decry mail-in ballots and early voting, and wish that somehow they could elect governors and state legislators who will bring back the good old days and the old rules, the more they miss an opportunity to seize the new electoral terrain from their opponents. If Republicans don’t recognize the new rules that shape elections, 2024 will be as disappointing as 2022, if not more so,” he added.
— Hudson Institute (@HudsonInstitute) December 2, 2022
Plus, critics say, there are too many risks inherent in just promoting in-person voting.
“Too many Republicans eschew mail-in ballots, insisting on waiting until Election Day to vote in person, which is fine as long as you can make it to the polls, but suppose you can’t? It happens a lot,” Dwight Weidman, a columnist for Public Opinion, a newspaper out of Pennsylvania, notes.
Continuing his column for the Journal, Herman further notes that mail-in-balloting is ubiquitous now, in that almost every state allows it.
“Forty-six states allow early in-person voting; 27 don’t require voters to justify using an absentee or mail-in ballot. Eight states, including Nevada and Oregon, conduct elections primarily by mail. Twenty-five states, including Florida, New York, and California, allow ‘ballot harvesting,’ in which someone other than the voter hands in absentee or mail-in ballots,” he writes.
“According to the Los Angeles Times, this year nearly 46 million voters cast their ballots before Election Day. That’s more than one-third (37%) of the total 122 million votes cast in the 2018 midterms, which was the highest midterm turnout rate since 1914,” he adds.
Keep in mind also that the GOP’s enemies are salivating at the thought of Republicans like Trump turning against mail-in balloting:
I think Republicans have the right idea, they should totally keep telling their voters not to do early voting or mail-in ballots because that’s working so well for them.
— BrooklynDad_Defiant!☮️ (@mmpadellan) December 7, 2022
Scaring Republicans off of mail-in ballots is one of the nicest things Trump has done for Democrats. https://t.co/OPy9oPEHP4
— John Levenstein (@johnlevenstein) November 29, 2022
On this issue, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel has reportedly chosen to ally herself against Trump.
RNC’s Ronna McDaniel joining a chorus of Republicans pushing back against corners of the GOP and Trump who have attacked mail-in and early voting: “Our voters need to vote early. There were many in 2020 saying, don’t vote by mail, don’t vote early, and we have to stop that.”
— Meridith McGraw (@meridithmcgraw) December 6, 2022
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