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Former GOP opponents promote mail-in voting

There are a couple of old sayings that come to mind with the news that two former GOP congressional opponents have joined forces to promote a campaign to encourage their party members to take a different attitude toward mail-in voting.

One is: “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’’ The other is: “Politics makes strange bedfellows.’’

Lisa Scheller, the 2022 Republican nominee for Congress in the 7th District that includes Lehigh, Carbon, Northampton and several municipalities of Monroe counties, believes that she lost the election because members of her party did not embrace mail-in voting to the degree that Democrats did. Scheller lost to incumbent Democrat Susan Wild by about 5,000 votes out of nearly 300,000 cast.

As a result of this reality, Scheller has joined forces with a former Republican opponent to try to convince members of their party that they need to take a fresh look at mail-in balloting, or they are going to continue to suffer the consequences in future elections. Former Lehigh County Commissioner Dean Browning has joined Scheller in this public relations effort to try to sell the idea that mail-in balloting is not something that should be shunned.

They have formed the Win Again Political Action Committee to try to bring this message home, because state Republicans have paid the price by largely rejecting mail-in balloting in favor of in-person voting ever since the state General Assembly passed and former Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill in 2019 that allowed no-excuses mail-in voting.

Scheller, who also won the Republican nomination in 2020 primary, defeated Browning by about 2,400 votes out of nearly 54,000 cast. Scheller also lost in the General Election that year to Wild.

Browning insists that his and Scheller’s differences during their 2020 primary campaign were never about Republican Party policies or principles. “We want to make a difference, and the way we make a difference is equipping Republicans to win,” Browning said in a statement.

For many mainstream Republicans, the maddening issue is that GOP legislators, who controlled both houses of the General Assembly, supported the legislation when it passed four years ago.

Since then, constant criticism from the likes of former President Donald Trump and other election deniers, who claimed mail-in balloting allowed manipulative shenanigans in the vote count to occur, has led to a change of heart among former supporters of the legislation. These allegations were part of the campaign to discredit President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory against Trump in the Presidential race.

No evidence has ever been produced that mail-in voting led to widespread fraud, but the issue caused Republicans to turn their backs on mail-in voting in large numbers. By a 3 to 1 margin, Democrats have led Republicans in Pennsylvania in the use of mail-in ballots since the 2020 elections.

A recent example of this disparity was in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court primaries on May 16. Forty-one percent of Democrats voted by mail, while just 14.5% of Republicans did.

For political expediency, Scheller did not publicly come out in favor of mail-in voting during her 2022 campaign, but since some major Republican voices, including Trump’s and another 2024 Presidential candidate, Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, are taking a fresh look at mail-in voting, Scheller believes now is the time to reframe the message.

According to its statement, Win Again’s target is infrequent GOP mail-in voters. By getting these Republican voters on board will lead to a greater turnout and ultimate success, the organization believes.

Can even respected Republicans sell the idea that mail-in voting is worth reconsidering, especially after many in the party have been condemning it so strongly for several years? Even now election deniers are persisting in their accusations that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen from Trump, and mail-in voting was one of the primary reasons why.

By BRUCE FRASSINELLI | tneditor@tnonline.com

The foregoing opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board or Times News LLC.