For centuries, election day has been vital to America’s electoral system. Not long ago, voters didn’t begin paying attention to campaigns until after Labor Day. October was a critical month for candidates ahead of voters having a say in some early voting states and on the second Tuesday of each November. Whether good or bad, the COVID-19 pandemic changed how and when millions of Americans vote. After the midterm election results, where Republicans dramatically underperformed, it may be fair to ask if Republicans are unintentionally suppressing their votes.
In 2020, many Americans began casting a ballot through the mail as state legislatures changed voting rules or governor’s allowed drop boxes illegally. In Wisconsin, the State Supreme Court ruled in July that their statewide presence violated Wisconsin’s Constitution. Throughout the country, unexcused mail-in-voting has been a contentious issue for Republicans, many of whom believe the practice was abused and cheating occurred. That’s led many GOP voters to refuse to cast ballots through the mail as a protest and show up only on election day.
Still, something isn’t working. In a supposed red wave year, Republican candidates should have won the House by wide margins, flipped the Senate, and added to their majority of governors and state legislatures. It didn’t materialize for whatever reason. Some blamed a lack of quality candidates. Others suggest former President Donald Trump’s endorsements helped Democrats. Did abortion hijack the election despite the state of the economy and crime?
Still, the evolution in “how” America votes could have contributed to the GOP’s struggle this year. For example, on Tuesday, once reliably red Georgia showed that it may now be a solidly purple state. Incumbent far-left Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) defeated Trump-endorsed Republican candidate Hershel Walker (R-GA) for the second time in a month.
There are more questions than answers:
- Is America shifting Left?
- Was America always more Left-leaning, but not enough people voted to reflect it?
- Did no-excuse mail-in voting make it easier for people to cast a ballot, and so they did?
In the wake of the 2020 election controversy, many GOP-led states reformed their election laws. Democrats alleged they were suppressing votes. The 2022 midterm election results show otherwise, and people voted in record numbers — without any accusations there were improprieties.
Much of the voting came over an election season instead of an election day.
Republican strategists and campaigns have not adjusted or perhaps refused to adapt to the changes in how America votes by emphasizing same-day voting over mail-in voting. The October Surprise that has made or broken so many candidates in the past is gone. What good is it if voters learn of a serious issue at the last minute that would change their vote if their ballot was already mailed in?
Here’s a significant issue. It’s easy and convenient to fill out a ballot at home and put it in the mail. If Republicans continue to depend on election day, too many things can go wrong. Voting is no longer a single-day event in most states. The weather could depress turnout on election day. People may have things happen in life that prevent them from going to the polls (sickness, accidents, last-minute business meetings, etc.).
So, is good-intentioned thinking leading to an unintentional suppression of voters driving conservatives to lose elections?
It could be a factor, even if it’s not the only cause. In tight elections, every vote counts. Shouldn’t conservatives do everything they can to ensure people cast a ballot? To do that, they need assurances. GOP officials should take the time to visit with local election officials and introduce these professionals by sharing how they do their work during an election season to get the count correct. Relationships matter in developing trust and accountability.
If we are going to defeat big government intrusion into our lives, conservatives must win elections in sufficient numbers. Right now, we’re going backward, not forward. The “election day” approach is failing. The numbers aren’t there, as evidenced in last night’s Georgia Senate run-off election and races across the country last month.
Convincing skeptical voters to break with their norms will be a huge undertaking. Their concerns must be alleviated. Still, if something doesn’t change by 2024, Joe Biden could win a second term, and Republicans could once again underperform with voters. That could have a devastating impact on the country long-term.
Changing minds could be a more significant challenge than I can imagine. Still, we must change what we are doing if we want a different result.
The Conservative Era