Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Tuesday called on GOP officials to stop discouraging early voting and mail-in balloting as the party took a loss in Georgia’s runoff election.
“Our voters need to vote early,” McDaniel told Fox News during an interview. “I have said this over and over again. There were many in 2020 saying, ‘Don’t vote by mail, don’t vote early.’ And we have to stop that and understand that if Democrats are getting ballots in for a month, we can’t expect to get it all done in one day.”
After the 2020 election, there have been an increasing number of Republicans who say that voters should turn up at the polls on Election Day, while eschewing vote-by-mail. Among them is former President Donald Trump, who since 2020, has alleged that mail-in balloting is fraught with fraud.
A spokesperson for the RNC later told NBC News that McDaniel was not making reference to Trump when she made her remarks during the Fox interview. The official noted that Trump has, at times, told supporters to vote early and via mail.
“The discussion was about Democrats having a month to bank votes while Republicans expect to get it done in one day,” RNC spokesperson Nathan Brand told the corporate news outlet. “We were not talking about the former president, who has encouraged his base to vote early and has himself voted by mail.”
When Trump announced last month he would run for president in 2024, he called for “same-day” voting and a ban on early voting. A number of countries, including France and Brazil, do not allow mail-in voting or early voting; voters are required by law to show up in person to cast their ballots.
In September 2005, former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker released a lengthy report on elections saying that vote-by-mail “raises concerns about privacy, as citizens voting at home may come under pressure to vote for certain candidates, and it increases the risk of fraud.”
And, mail-in-ballots are “likely to increase the risks of fraud and of contested elections in other states, where the population is more mobile, where there is some history of troubled elections, or where the safeguards for ballot integrity are weaker.
McDaniel, meanwhile, is seeking a fourth term chair of the RNC as some GOP voters and officials called for her ouster after poorer-than-expected results during the Nov. 8 midterms. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), who lost his New York gubernatorial bid last month, signaled that he won’t seek the RNC chair position but suggested someone else other than McDaniel take over.
In 2020, Trump had endorsed McDaniel’s RNC reelection bid via his Twitter account. It’s not clear whether he will support McDaniel, who is the niece of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and granddaughter of former Michigan Gov. George Romney, during this election cycle.
Other possible challengers include MyPillow CEO and Trump supporter Mike Lindell as well as Harmeet Dhillon, an RNC member from California and longtime lawyer for the Republican Party.
In a statement on Wednesday, Zeldin said McDaniel’s “reelection appears to already be pre-baked, as if the disappointing results of every election during her tenure, including yesterday in Georgia, do not and should not even matter.”
“As for the Republican Party, it must become more successful at fundraising, more efficient with spending, sharper with ballot collection and election integrity efforts, smarter with messaging, more present in Democrat strongholds, and more connected to the grassroots,” Zeldin continued.
The outgoing House lawmaker also panned his party’s performance during the midterms after forecasters had predicted Republicans would net significantly more seats in the House and possibly recapture the Senate. The GOP failed to do both, especially as Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (D-Ga.) win cemented the Democrats’ 51-seat majority in the Senate.
Zeldin said Republicans need to do a “far better job communicating not just what we are against related to the terrible policies of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, but specifically what we are for as Republicans.”
Last month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) faced a longshot challenge from Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) before prevailing during the Senate GOP’s internal elections. Incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also faces a challenge from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Calif.) for House speaker.