New RNC chair says party has to influence early voters ‘to the degree that we can’

The newly elected chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) said Friday the party must communicate with voters who cast their ballots before Election Day, even as former President Trump has disparaged mail-in voting.

“Look, in every state there are various different rules, but writ large people can vote by mail, they can vote early in person or they can vote on Election Day,” Michael Whatley, who was elected the new chair of the RNC last week, said on Fox News.

“We want to make sure that people have a plan on how they are going to go out and vote. Over 50 percent of American voters will vote before Election Day,” he continued. “We need to make sure that we are communicating with them, that we are talking to them before they go vote.”

Asked if that means the party will directly encourage Republicans to vote early, Whatley demurred.

“Look, people need to make a decision for themselves about what is best for them on voting, whether it’s by mail, early, in person, or on Election Day,” he said. “We are seeing more and more voters, Republicans, unaffiliateds, independents and even Democrats who are voting before Election Day. We have got to make sure that we are talking to them and influencing those votes to the degree that we can before they go vote.”

In a letter to RNC members sent Thursday, Whatley said programs focused on early voting, legal ballot harvesting and mail-in programs will be “enhanced.” The party is also launching a “Grow the Vote” program aimed at reaching low-propensity voters.

Democrats have traditionally performed better than Republicans in getting voters to bank their ballots through early in-person voting and mail-in voting ahead of Election Day.

The party’s investments in mail-in balloting and early voting come as Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, has for the last several years claimed mail voting is rife with fraud. He suggested the 2020 election could not be trusted because of the widespread use of mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, and he has continued to claim at recent rallies that mail-in voting can’t be trusted.

Whatley, who was elected chair with Trump’s backing, told Fox News he expects there will also be “a lot of different changes” to the way the party uses its national convention in July to communicate with voters.

“But the fact is, that we want to use this as a showcase to talk to all 50 states across the country and voters in every single community,” he said.

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