On the night of Nov. 8, 2022, I was at a ballroom in Eastern Pennsylvania watching election returns come in after a year of long days spent working to elect conservative candidates. I, along with just about every other Republican activist, candidate, and operative, felt confident. Then the mail-in vote came in.

It’s an experience that has become familiar to us as Republicans in the last few years — we put in countless hours of work only to have our efforts ruined by a flood of Democrat votes that were cast well before the polls even opened. It was after this most recent debacle that I got together with 2022 Congressional candidate Lisa Scheller and State Senate candidate Dean Browning (two of the latest casualties of our mail-in voting disadvantage). 

Together, we resolved to ensure this would never happen again.

READ MORE — Delco Republicans sue County Council over changes to election code

From the outside, it can be hard to understand how Republicans came to have such an enormous disadvantage in the mail-in voting ballot fight. Twenty years ago, mail-in votes (then called absentee ballots) made the difference for Republicans in close races, including the 2000 presidential race in Florida. Back then, it was considered smart strategy to encourage voters to use mail-in ballots if they could — after all, what campaign wouldn’t want to give voters several weeks to cast a ballot instead of a single day?

Unfortunately, this Republican advantage has flipped in a major way. Democrats have figured out that mail-in voting ballots can help them to leverage their institutional strengths in the effort to turn out votes. This is something I’ve watched up close where I live in Allentown — Democratic campaigns work hand-in-hand with left-wing-aligned nonprofits, committees, churches, PACs, and anyone else they can find to push their voters to sign up for a mail-in ballot. Then, when October rolls around, the process repeats as they encourage those individuals to return their ballots. Democrats have built up an impressive infrastructure to churn out mail-in votes, while Republicans are stuck relying on campaigns to get voters to the polls on election day. 

The results speak for themselves, but it’s important to understand the underlying statistics. After several weeks spent analyzing the data, we found that Democrats netted at least 150,000 votes from low-propensity voters (people who don’t typically vote) and newly-registered voters using mail-in voting ballots. 

This shouldn’t surprise us. When you give low-prop voters several months to cast their ballot, you increase the chance that they vote. Democrats have taken advantage of this and then some, doing everything short of breaking down the doors of their low-prop voters and making them sign up for a mail-in ballot. These extra votes alone can account for two losses in Pennsylvania congressional races, the loss of the state house, and several state senate races.

If we don’t get this right, we risk another electoral wipeout that will further set back Pennsylvania and potentially the country.

For their part, Republicans used to console themselves that our voters were much more likely to turn out so we didn’t need to use mail-in voting ballots as much. There’s some truth to this, but it’s worth remembering that Republicans are quickly becoming a much more working-class party than we were a decade ago. When our voters are determining whether to vote, they may have to contend with extra shifts at work, childcare issues, family issues, or any other daily occurrence that can stop us from completing our to-do lists. The reality is, we can’t rely on elderly retirees turning out at 7 a.m. to win elections for us; we have to match the aggressive turnout strategy that Democrats employ.

That’s why we recently formed Win Again PAC. From now on, we’ll be devoting ourselves to ending the Democrats’ mail-in voting monopoly in Pennsylvania by building the mail-in ballot infrastructure Republicans desperately need.

We’ll be traveling the state in order to train committees, campaigns, and grassroots organizations on the ins and outs of mail-in voting and how to persuade our voters to use it; we’ll be working to get our materials into the hands of any Republican candidate or volunteer who wants them; and we’ll work to provide the advertising air support needed to get our message to every last Pennsylvania Republican. 

The stakes could hardly be higher, and time is short. In 2024, Pennsylvania will be in a position to decide control of the House, Senate, and Presidency. If we don’t get this right, we risk another electoral wipeout that will further set back Pennsylvania and potentially the country. That’s why we’re starting now, and we’ll be using the 2023 election cycle to refine our tactics and build out the infrastructure we’ll need in order to be successful in the years to come.

We won’t be able to accomplish this on our own, however. Democrats have found success by focusing all the tools in their political arsenal on driving early/mail-in voting turnout. Our effort will rely on committees, PACs, candidates, grassroots organizations, and donors working together and committing themselves to solving this problem and revolutionizing Republican campaigns. If not, Republicans will once again find themselves at another series of miserable “victory” parties in the coming elections. 

Arnaud Armstrong is a Pennsylvania-based political operative and a co-founder of Win Again PAC. Learn more at www.winagain.org.

5 thoughts on “Arnaud Armstrong: To win again, Pennsylvania Republicans need to compete in mail-in voting”

  1. Arnaud,
    Good work. Good luck. How many of the “at least 150,000 votes” were from low-propensity voters (people who don’t typically vote) versus, specifically, the newly registered voters using mail-in ballots? How did you get that info? How can I look up if my vote was counted as Democrat or Republican in the election? Are out-of-state college students signing up for mail-in ballots for PA?
    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

  2. But wait! The Rs have been telling everyone mail-in ballots = fraud for years!!! Could that have been . . . . made up entirely???

    1. The rules have changed. Mail in ballots are the reality.
      We can stick to the past and perish or wake up and win.

  3. Problems with mail-in ballots AKA MIBs:

    1. Early voting by MIBs enables early counting and MIB manipulation – Even though pre-canvassing before Election Day is not legal, election officials have the means to at least know the party affiliation of the voters who vote by MIB and therefore predict how many fake ballots they need to generate and inject into the process to achieve their desired result. Also, they break the law with impunity by pre-canvassing, at least in Delaware County, PA.

    2. It is very hard to detect MIB fraud if you don’t know how to spot it – Attorneys acting as authorized representatives have been reluctant to challenge pre-canvassing violations because the law seems nebulous on this issue or they don’t understand the process. This was a huge problem in Nov 2022 in Delaware County when approximately 24,000 MIBs were pre-canvassed prior to 7AM on Election Day.

    3. Fraudsters will generate as many fake MIBs as they need to get the result they want – Witnesses from both parties have provided sworn affidavits alleging there were at least 50,000 unopened MIBs in a storage area at the counting center 3 days after Election Day, and AFTER the county released a statement that MIBs processing had been completed. Was one of those MIBs yours?

    4. Officials won’t properly investigate election fraud – This matter was never fully investigated by Delco DA Jack Stollsteimer nor by then AG Josh Shapiro, who was a beneficiary of the fraud, since he was on the ticket. When US Attorney Bill McSwain made an effort to investigate, he was ordered by then US AG Bill Barr to “ stand down” from investigating.

    5. Who is counting the MIBs? – Instead of neighbors and citizens in each precinct working together to tabulate and report the vote, which was done prior to 2020, now democrat officials, unelected bureaucrats, temp workers, and volunteers affiliated with various NGO’s are tabulating your votes at a centralized counting center with minimal oversight.

    6. In the case of Delaware County, the counting center used to count MIBs has been located outside of the county seat in Media, to the Chester waterfront, contrary to PA statute, in a remote area away from public view. Democrats have made sure that the counting center is NOT legally deemed a polling place, and therefore is not easily accessed, watched nor challenged by certified poll watchers.

    7. There is no valid chain of custody for MIBs – It is impossible for citizens or watchers to follow their ballot. It disappears into a black hole at the counting center. According to the Department of State, without a “strict chain of custody” there is no valid certification of the machines and the Election Management System on which ballots are counted.

    8. Centralization of MIB vote tallies can provide surface area for insider fraud – It only takes a handful of bad actors to alter thousands of votes with the click of a mouse with current proprietary machine systems and software, which are not subject to records requests. Remember when the votes flipped on live TV in the middle of the night in Nov 2020?

    9. When thousands of MIBs are illegally pre-canvassed, or even canvassed prior to 7AM on Election Day, the potential exists to alter machine algorithms to fractionalize the vote to achieve the desired result.

    10. The more MIBs can mean fewer in person votes, meaning less need to rely on local citizens using the “precinct model” of elections, turning instead to a “voter center model” in which almost everyone votes my mail. This trend portends the end of the constructional republic and the impossibility of Republicans to ever win elections, as has occurred in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Arizona.

    11. MIBs degrade citizen participation – Our way of governance depends on citizen participation. By embracing MIBs and ceding to unelected bureaucrats our voting methods and procedures, we undermine our state and federal constitutions and kill our Republic.

    12. More reasons – I hope I am wrong, but it won’t work, it is unconstitutional and was found to be so by PA Commonwealth Court, no serious country on the planet allows it, it is clearly a fraud therefore immoral and those supporting it will cede the higher moral ground to the perpetrators of fraud, losing credibility.

    13. Instead…all honest people of any affiliation should RISE UP en masse to DEMAND that our legislators repeal the fraudulent Act 77, passed by Republicans in the state legislature. If Republicans just grow a spine, and do this, we could maybe get our country back.

  4. Many well meaning people are buying into the MIB scheme as an effort to get Republicans elected. While I hope the experiment will be successful, as a conservative, I wonder what we are conserving if we become indistinguishable from the opposition.

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