Jim Beam column:Voters like early, mail voting

Published 7:13 am Thursday, December 15, 2022

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Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said in an interview on Fox News that GOP voters need to cast ballots early. “I have said this over and over again,” McDaniel said. “There were many in 2020 saying, ‘Don’t vote by mail, don’t vote early.’ And we have to stop that.”

Like many in her party, The Associated Press said McDaniel didn’t name Trump, the main person in 2020 who was attacking voting before Election Day. Trump said Democratic efforts to expand mail voting could lead to “levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Trump’s lies helped spur the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, new GOP-backed laws tightening election regulations in Republican-led states and encouraged many Republicans who believed his conspiracies to run for statewide posts in 2022 and lose.

Warnock, before Election Day arrived, built up a lead of more than 320,000 votes, thanks to early and mail voting. He topped Republican Herschel Walker by an almost 2-1 ratio in mailed ballots and had an advantage of more than 250,000 early, in-person votes over Walker.

Walker gained more votes on Election Day, but he still lost the race by 96,613 votes. Warnock picked up 51.4 percent of the vote to 48.6 for Walker.

The AP said one problem with that strategy is that bad weather and glitches like a printer error made things more complicated for large numbers of persons trying to vote.

A snow storm in Nevada made travel tricky on Election Day. In Georgia’s runoff, rain drenched the state as large numbers of Republicans eventually made it to the polls.

Debbie Dooley, a Georgia tea party organizer, remains loyal to Trump but is critical of how he has talked about the U.S. election system. “We’ve got to put a priority on competing with Democrats from the start, beat them at their own game,” she said.

U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and the second-ranking GOP leader, told reporters, “We’ve got to get better at turnout operations, especially in states that use mail-in balloting extensively.”

Jason Snead of the Honest Elections Project, a conservative group, said Republicans with robust early voting programs, such as Govs. Brian Kemp in Georgia and Ron DeSantis in Florida, easily won their elections while those who echoed Trump’s conspiracy theories mostly lost.

The AP said one of the worst performances for election conspiracy theorists occurred in Pennsylvania. The Republican candidate for governor, who had watched as protesters attacked the Capitol, lost by nearly 15 percentage points. The GOP also lost a Senate seat there and control of the lower house of the legislature.

Democrats out-voted Republicans by mail by more than 3-to-1, netting 69 percent of the nearly 1.25 million mail ballots cast in the state. That was almost one-fourth of a total of nearly 5.4 million ballot cast.

Sam DeMarco, chair of the Allegheny County GOP in Pennsylvania, said, “Republican attitudes on mail-in ballots are going to have to change.  President Trump is running across the country telling people not to use it, and it’s crushing us.”

Some Republican legislators in Louisiana bought into Trump’s conspiracies and passed some election bills in 2021 that weren’t necessary. Fortunately, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the bad ones.

One vetoed bill prohibited the use of private funds to pay election-related expenses. Another bill provided for a second annual canvass of registered voters. Edwards said there was no good reason for a third vetoed bill that inserted  “the state central committee of certain parties into the poll watching process”

Two other vetoed bills that the governor said were unnecessary got the legislative auditor involved in auditing elections and made mail-in voting more complicated.

Legislators after that session held their first veto session under the Louisiana Constitution that was enacted in 1974. However, lawmakers failed to override any of the 28 bills vetoed by Edwards.

Louisiana lawmakers should continue early voting and give more voters an opportunity to vote by mail. Voting by mail definitely increases voter turnout.