The Republican Party tries to embrace mail ballots for 2024 after four years of vilifying them

Tribune Content Agency

The Republican National Committee launched a persuasion campaign this week to persuade the party’s voters to use mail ballots in 2024, after four years of GOP candidates — including a president — falsely claiming that route inevitably leads to election fraud.

The effort had a distinct take-your-medicine flavor. And party leaders winced while swallowing it.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel spent 30 minutes Wednesday pitching mail ballots and “harvesting” — ballots collected by a third party for delivery to election officials. She was joined by Republican congressional leaders hoping to expand the party’s majority in the U.S. House and take control of the Senate.

Then she said this: “I’m not going to lie. I do not like ballot harvesting. I don’t think it’s a good practice. I don’t like having an election month.”

She’s not alone.

McDaniel acknowledged that Republicans — most notably former President Donald Trump before the 2020 election and after he lost — persuaded a big chunk of the party’s base to distrust mail ballots.

“That certainly is a challenge, if you have people in your ecosystem saying don’t vote early or don’t vote by mail,” she said. “Those cross-messages do have an impact.”

That’s as close as she came to acknowledging that Republicans dug the hole they are now trying, reluctantly, to emerge from.

McDaniel said mail ballots give Democrat “a head start” in elections, leaving Republicans trying to catch up during in-person voting.

“We have to change the culture among Republican voters,” McDaniel said.