WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, Aug. 23, the Republican National Committee (RNC) released a 30-second video encouraging Republicans to utilize mail-in voting and early voting as part of their “Bank Your Vote” campaign, a complete flip-flop from the last presidential cycle when the party, led by former President Donald Trump, repeatedly attacked these voting methods.
The ad is part of a months-long campaign driven by the RNC to switch positions on early and mail-in voting after deriding it for years. Following Republicans’ poor showing in the 2022 midterm elections, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel came out in favor of mail-in voting, admitting that “there were many in 2020 saying, ‘Don’t vote by mail, don’t vote early’” and encouraging her members to “stop that.”
First released on YouTube, the ad is expected to air during the first GOP primary debate, which begins tonight at 9 p.m. EDT on Fox News. The video features prominent figures within the GOP, including former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
In an about-face, the video marks a stark divergence from how the Republican Party has treated the practices for the last three years. After Trump and his allies launched a full-scale assault on mail-in voting leading up to the 2020 election, they subsequently falsely claimed that mail-in ballot fraud led to the former president’s defeat. That prompted the party to solidify its stances against mail-in and early voting, and Republicans nationwide passed dozens of laws restricting the practices. Even after the 2022 midterms, when the RNC seemed to be changing its tune on mail-in voting, Trump posted on Truth Social that “YOU CAN NEVER HAVE FREE & FAIR ELECTIONS WITH MAIL-IN BALLOTS.”
Despite the change in rhetoric and the launch of the “Bank Your Vote” campaign, the RNC and its state party affiliates have not put their money where their mouth is as they continue to challenge early and mail-in voting laws across the country. Recently the RNC intervened in a Florida case to defend signature matching, a process that compares a voter’s signature on their mail-in ballot to a separate signature they have on record and in a Pennsylvania lawsuit to block the state from counting undated or wrongly dated mail-in ballots. Most recently, in Wisconsin the party is seeking to uphold three rules that pro-voting groups say make mail-in voting more difficult.