After Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s loss in Georgia Tuesday night, some Republicans are conceding that maybe attacking methods of voting isn’t a good way to, well, get votes.
On his program Tuesday night, Fox News host Sean Hannity looked to Republicans including House leader Kevin McCarthy and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich for insight as to why “Republicans have been unwilling, for whatever reason … to vot[e] early and vot[e] by mail.”
“Republicans in the past, we had an advantage because we would vote early, we would vote by mail, and we put that away,” McCarthy said.
Gingrich, an election denialist who had previously suggested arresting election workers after the 2020 election, told Hannity that “you have to play the game by the rules that are existing,” encouraging Republicans to vote early and by mail.
On Wednesday, Senators Lindsey Graham and Rick Scott also suggested that their party could improve on its early and mail-in voting stances. Fomenting distrust in such practices “has to change because we need to bank votes like they do,” said Graham.
The reason Republicans haven’t been voting early or by mail is because Donald Trump—and his followers—all discouraged it. From January to September 2020, Trump attacked mail-in voting over 100 times, according to The Washington Post. And Republican politicians, officials, and media followed suit, leading to 18 states passing legislation that made mail-in voting harder this year.
Georgia Republicans themselves sought to block early voting from beginning on November 26.
Hannity too has shared Project Veritas videos peddling mail-voting conspiracies to his millions of followers on Twitter and has hosted segments attacking mail-in and early voting practices, sowing doubt in the integrity of such methods.
Unfortunately, Republicans still can’t outright say, “It’s good to make voting easier for people,” in the same way they can’t outright denounce Trump.
“There were many in 2020 saying, ‘Don’t vote by mail, don’t vote early,’” said RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel Tuesday on Fox News. “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.”
An RNC spokesperson later said that McDaniel apparently wasn’t talking about Trump, who has been the loudest voice on the matter and called to ban early voting when he announced his 2024 candidacy last month.