October 26, 2023
Bank Your Vote
It’s a whole new ballgame
By: Brian Almon
Early voting began last Monday, and I was one of the first people to cast my vote at the Eagle Public Library. To be honest it still feels odd to vote before Election Day. I firmly believe that the Constitution prescribes a single day for elections, and that spreading it out over several weeks and allowing mail-in ballots twists the clear instructions of our founding document. However, we have to play the game as it is, not how we think it should be.
Many political arguments hinge on the difference between is and ought, or description vs. prescription. We can advocate for how we want our civic society to work while at the same time recognizing that it does not currently work that way, and that we must deal with the situation before us rather than wishing it was different.
Several weeks ago, Mike Lindell and Matt Braynard debated the merits of early voting on Tim Pool’s Culture War show. Lindell argued that conservatives need to vote on Election Day, period, and that we need government to reform the voting process. Braynard argued that unless we adapt to the new reality, we’re not going to win any more elections, which means we will never have the power to fix any of our national problems, including elections.
The whole thing is worth watching if you have the time:
After watching it myself I came to agree with Braynard. I know that many of you like and support what Lindell is doing, and I’m sure his intentions are good, but the sad truth is that his work has largely been an expensive red herring. In the video above, he promised to unveil yet another new plan that would once again change everything, but the benefit to watching this in November is that we know it amounted to nothing.
On the other hand, Braynard and his organization have been getting things done at a tangible level. The playing field has changed. Today, winning partisan elections is less about persuasion and more about turnout, so maximizing turnout is the path to victory. That means getting your people to take advantage of early and absentee voting. We want as many of our voters as possible to cast their ballots, which means getting them to the polls by any means necessary.
To use a football analogy: If there was a rule change before the Super Bowl that seems to benefit one team over another, the underdog would gain nothing by refusing to take the field. They must instead adapt. Perhaps the most striking case study comes from Arizona, where Kari Lake urged her supporters to vote on Election Day rather than early or by mail. It sounds well and good, but how many votes for Lake were lost due to myriad problems with voting and tabulating on Election Day? In hindsight, all Lake did was to inform her enemies of her battle plan in advance. It’s easy for the Patriots to win if they can see their opponents’ playbook.
That’s why Matt Braynard urges conservatives to bank your votes. Cast your ballot by whatever means you can. One advantage to early voting is that it gives candidates and parties advance knowledge that you voted so they don’t have to worry about sending postcards or calling you on the phone to get you to the polls. Obviously who you voted for remains a secret, but the fact that you voted is a public record, and campaigns use that information to send reminders to their supporters.
(By the way, that’s why poll workers call out your name once you finish voting. It was originally so that poll watchers could mark off who voted and therefore know who needed to be reminded in the afternoon.)
Banking your vote gives campaigns information they need to plan for the final stretch. If their numbers are high, they can focus on getting their message to marginal voters, while if they’re low they can redouble their efforts to get their supporters to the polls.
Having been a poll worker, I have seen how Ada County handles its elections, and I believe the process is secure. I still don’t fully trust mail-in voting, simply because it vastly increases the chain of custody for your ballot. But early voting is secured by the same measures as same-day voting, so I recommend taking advantage if you can.
As for me, I voted early because I’ll once again be working a polling place on Election Day. Maybe I’ll see you there. In the end, the most important thing to do is vote, no matter how you do it. The local races on your ballot are some of the most consequential for you and your family, so make your voice heard.
Note: A descendant of American pioneers, Brian writes about the importance of culture and about current events in the context of history. His work can be found on Substack, here.