Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are the leading contenders for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, and the upcoming primary fight is expected to get ugly.
But the two recently teamed up with Republican Party leaders to try and shift course on early voting.
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The two want to encourage GOP voters to embrace mail-in voting and ballot harvesting (where it’s legal) heading into the 2024 election.
Trump told the audience at the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that it was time for Republicans to “change our thinking” on mail-in voting. He has also emailed supporters about his campaigns plans to use “ballot harvesting” — collecting ballots on behalf of neighbors and friends — in the 2024 campaign in states where it is legal.
The GOP has “no choice” but to fight “Democrats at their own game,” Trump said.
It is a remarkable change of opinion for Trump, who said last November that “YOU CAN NEVER HAVE FAIR & FREE ELECTIONS WITH MAIL-IN BALLOTS – NEVER, NEVER, NEVER.”
Trump’s shift echoes the same move by DeSantis. The Florida governor said in 2021 that he’d like to see felony charges for ballot harvesting — but in a recent speech, he embraced the practice heading into the 2024 election in states where it’s legal.
DeSantis first blasted ballot harvesting in principle when addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition, but said it would be unfair to let the Democrats be the only party that does it.
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“Here’s the deal. If they have ballot harvesting, then Republicans need to do this too,” he told the crowd. “You can’t just let them do it, and then us sit here with two hands tied behind our back. So whatever the rules are, take advantage of that.”
Republican Party leaders have long encouraged early voting. DeSantis and Trump seem to have both embraced their mindset.
“What we do need is our voters need to vote early,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News the day Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock won reelection in Georgia in December.
“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.”
The Horn editorial team