Republicans are continuing to backtrack on years of conspiracy-theory precedent after last year’s midterms taught them that demonizing certain popular types of voting for the sake of Donald Trump’s grievances might not be the best way to win friends and influence people.
The latest MAGA fan and one-time Big Liar to embrace the Republican National Committee’s early-voting about-face initiative: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
Youngkin’s version of the program is called “Secure Your Vote Virginia” and he launched it Tuesday with several other Republican groups in the state through his political action committee, Spirit of Virginia. The program will reportedly reach out to Republican and swing voters imploring them to take advantage of mail-in voting and early voting opportunities in the upcoming election. You know, the stuff that Trump, the RNC and many other Republican entities have long characterized as voter fraud and used to bolster their baseless claims about the 2020 election.
“We can’t go into Election Day down thousands of votes,” Youngkin said in a statement when he announced the new program yesterday. “We fundamentally believe Secure Your Vote Virginia is how, together, we can win in 2023 and beyond.”
There’s even a video:
While the RNC’s initiative — called “Bank Your Vote” — is a key part of the party’s effort to try to hold the House and flip the Senate in 2024, Youngkin has said that he is primarily focused on getting Republicans back in control of his state’s Senate. But Youngkin is rumored to have political aspirations beyond the governorship and, as NBC noted, may be hoping a possibly successful rollout of this program in Virginia might give him more street cred with the national party heading into future elections.
The RNC’s program is similar to Youngkin’s plan. Per my colleague Hunter Walker, who reported on it last week:
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel launched the “Bank Your Vote” initiative on Jun. 7. The official website described it as a plan to have supporters “vote by mail or early in-person, and ballot harvest where permitted.” Of course, mail-in voting, early voting, and so-called “ballot harvesting,” a term for having teams collect completed mail or absentee ballots from voters, have all been the target of criticisms and conspiracy theories from Trump, McDaniel, and other Republicans for years. The about face embrace of these voting techniques from the RNC – which did not respond to a request for comment on this story – comes as experts increasingly believe right-wing conspiracy rhetoric about voting has actually suppressed turnout among the Republican base.
But not everyone is embracing the about-face, at least not without a mini temper tantrum. During an interview with his former White House deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka last month, Trump suggested he wasn’t fully onboard with the plan. And infamous Big Lie conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell isn’t convinced either, though in Lindell’s case, this may be influenced as much by his unsuccessful bid to take over the RNC than anything else. From Hunter:
Even though there are clear reasons for the GOP to change its course, the new initiative has angered some right wing activists who remain devoted to the Big Lie and distrustful of election systems. Notably, My Pillow pitchman Mike Lindell, the prominent election conspiracist who ran an unsuccessful campaign to usurp McDaniel as RNC chair last year, told TPM the initiative was “the worst plan … in history” and suggested it might be part of a “grand scheme” to undermine Trump.
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