Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy participated in a press call on Monday afternoon to announce a campaign aimed at encouraging Republican voters in California and across the nation to submit their mail-in ballots early and then monitor them online.
McCarthy, a Republican from Bakersfield, emphasized the significance of congressional races in California, suggesting that the balance of power in the House could hinge on these contests.
He shared a personal anecdote about collecting ballots while handing out Halloween candy and remarked that California’s election laws are quite liberal. He stressed the importance of updating voter registration rolls to prevent fraud.
McCarthy also criticized Kern County’s elections office for being notably slow in finalizing vote counts, calling it “the slowest county in the entire state.”
He suggested that Kern County might need an additional ballot sorting machine, a decision that the county’s Board of Supervisors had approved in July for a total cost of $628,000, which included funds for maintenance and electrical upgrades. McCarthy questioned why it takes a month to count election results.
During the call, other participants pointed out that Republicans used to rely more on absentee ballots compared to Democrats, who preferred voting in person on Election Day.
However, this changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as California implemented rules allowing all registered voters to receive a ballot that could be mailed in up to 29 days before the election.
Republican officials on the call noted that Democrats have effectively set up “harvesting” operations, where voters are encouraged to deposit their ballots at designated centers before the election, making the process more convenient.
On the other hand, California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Patterson mentioned that an increasing number of GOP voters are now casting their ballots in person on Election Day.
Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer and Republican Party official, highlighted that the Republican Party is adopting similar ballot-harvesting strategies to enhance their competitiveness. She stressed the need for the GOP to compete and not remain at a disadvantage.
Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, began the call by explaining that the GOP plans to expand harvesting efforts by establishing new ballot drop-off centers and educating voters on early voting.
She noted that the party had enlisted nearly 1,800 volunteer poll workers and watchers, emphasizing that these efforts should continue into the following year. She drew a comparison between the party’s get-out-the-vote campaigns and a football game, stating that waiting until the last minute to engage doesn’t lead to victory.
Chris Romo, the chairman of the Kern County Democratic Party, did not provide an immediate response to a request for comment on the new Republican initiative.