Donald Trump has long railed falsely that mail-in voting, ballot drop boxes and other voter conveniences were used to rig the 2020 election against him. Now his allies are embracing those very same tactics to boost his 2024 run.
(Bloomberg) — Donald Trump has long railed falsely that mail-in voting, ballot drop boxes and other voter conveniences were used to rig the 2020 election against him. Now his allies are embracing those very same tactics to boost his 2024 run.
The effort, led by former Trump acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, aims to encourage conservatives to cast ballots by any legal means. It will start by conducting focus groups and surveys to test messaging and gather data on voter behavior.
The project, which is in its early stages, aims to eventually create a digital list of Republican voters and how they cast their ballots. This will help campaigns better mobilize them and potentially lead to an operation to place drop boxes across the US to help conservatives.
“This is a very necessary task for conservatives to engage in,” Republican strategist Nick Ryan told Bloomberg News. “We need to use every single legal means necessary, so that we’re not hamstringing ourselves as we approach elections.”
Ryan and Eric Branstad, a Trump adviser in Iowa, are assisting in the effort.
The Trump campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment on the initiative.
Trump, who has been indicted three times on criminal charges, has long railed against voter measures such as mail-in ballots, saying they are rife with fraud and allowed Democrats to steal the election. Republicans have expressed concerns that stance could depress turnout by making conservatives reject convenient ways to vote.
Voters who backed Democrats were more likely to use mail-in and absentee ballots in last year’s midterms. A Pew Research Center study of 2022 voters found 60% who voted by mail or absentee ballot backed a Democratic candidate compared to only 38% who backed a Republican. Republicans won more votes among those who waited until Election Day, with 60% backing a GOP candidate and 38% a Democrat.
In private conversations, the former president has acknowledged the need to use the same strategies Democrats have employed to boost participation in recent elections, according to a person familiar with those conversations who requested anonymity to discuss them. Trump has been advised that those practices will improve his chances of winning in 2024, the person said.
Earlier: Trump Backs Effort to Push Early Voting Despite Prior Opposition
Trump and President Joe Biden were tied in a potential rematch in a New York Times/Siena College poll released last week, which also showed Trump widening his lead among his Republican rivals for the GOP nomination.
Last month, Trump backed a Republican National Committee effort, Bank Your Vote, which encourages GOP voters to cast early ballots and promotes ballot-collecting drives where legal. “We may not like the current system, but we need to master the rules and beat the Democrats at their own game, and then we can make our own rules,” Trump said in a video.
Ryan and Branstad, the strategists, said they will seek several millions of dollars in funding for their operation through a variety of organizations including groups promoting social causes and state political action committees, depending on laws in individual states. If they obtain enough funding by Sept. 4, they intend to test their initiative in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia — states holding off-year elections in 2023.
Ryan said political dynamics and rules on early voting vary in each state, allowing them to identify and test approaches for next year’s general election.
“The more smart people you get working around these tactics and issues and getting conservatives to engage and vote, the better,” Ryan added.
Branstad said their project wasn’t aligned with a particular campaign and would benefit the GOP overall. He said other campaigns and the party have been made aware of their plans, which were met with positive reactions.
“I want a drop box in every marina across America,” Branstad said. “I mean that kind of as a joke, meaning we want to compete with Democrats and go to where Republicans are.”
–With assistance from Ryan Teague Beckwith.
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