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Is Trump Gearing Up for Premature 2024 Victory Claim?

by California Digital News



Will voting by mail become off-limits for Republicans in 2024 as in 2020?
Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

For those who remember the very central role that attacks on the legitimacy of voting by mail played in Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat, this video released by the Republican National Committee last summer was a welcome surprise:

No, Trump was not at all backing off on his criticisms of voting by mail as somehow inherently fishy; indeed, he repeats the claim that Democrats “rigged” the 2020 election via mail ballots and hints that once Republicans have the power to do so, they will “set the rules” so as to require voting in person on Election Day. But in his characteristic pirate spirit of “beating the Democrats at their own (crooked) game,” he’s endorsing the GOP’s “Bank Your Vote” campaign so as to reduce any advantage Democrats might have in fully taking advantage of convenience voting to maximize their support. That meant, it seemed, that at least Trump and his people would not be challenging the 2024 results on those particular grounds.

We no longer have that assurance. As part of their recent takeover of the RNC, Trump’s MAGA appointees are abandoning the “Bank Your Vote” initiative, as MSNBC reports:

In a victory for the extremist wing of the Republican Party, it looks like Donald Trump’s hand-picked leadership team at the Republican National Committee has officially scrapped the GOP’s plan to encourage early voting this election cycle. Instead, the party is taking steps to prioritize legal challenges to voting systems ahead of November. 

The commissar Trump has appointed to oversee the RNC overhaul, campaign advisor Chris LaCivita, has taken another ominous step back toward the conspiracy-theory view of convenience voting, according to the Washington Post:

LaCivita is installing Christina Bobb — a former OAN reporter who has espoused false claims that the 2020 election was stolen — as senior counsel for election integrity. Bobb is the author of a book called “Stealing Your Vote: The Inside Story of the 2020 Election and What It Means for 2024” and promoted the audit of Arizona elections.

“I’m honored to join the RNC and thrilled the new leadership is focused on election integrity,” Bobb said in a statement.

It’s less clear what this reactionary development — which will displease plenty of state-level Republicans aware that their party has benefited as much as it has suffered from liberalized voting-by-mail protocols in the past — means in practice. Perhaps it just means more court battles to make voting as difficult as possible for people inclined to vote Democratic. The Post report on the RNC overhaul quotes LaCivita as saying “the RNC’s new posture as it relates to litigation is much more offensive and much less defensive.”

But it’s also possible Team Trump wants to keep open the option of premature-victory claims in November based on a Republican lead in the in-person ballots typically counted first. That is, after all, exactly what the 45th president did on Election Night in 2020, validating Democratic fears of a “Red Mirage” scenario wherein perfectly legal mail ballots counted later would be dismissed as illegitimate by Trump and his minions. Demonizing voting by mail was a twofer for Trump: it laid the foundation for post-election fraud claims but also encouraged Republicans to eschew mail ballots and vote in person, creating the early-count lead the former president relied on to make his phony victory declaration.

We should know soon enough if the MAGA plan is to replay the 2020 strategy. If the RNC goes from abandoning Bank Your Vote to regular attacks on any practice other than voting in person on Election Day, it’s a good sign that Trump plans to loudly challenge another defeat if he can point to a moment on Election Night when he’s ahead in the count. Some nightmares do, after all, recur again and again.

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