Trump wants Republicans to vote early — in California, that’s a message the GOP has pushed for years

Former President Donald Trump has instructions for GOP voters this fall: Cast those ballots early.

The Trump campaign recently launched what it’s calling the “Swamp the Vote” effort, encouraging Republicans to vote early or submit an absentee ballot, ensure registration status and encourage other Trump supporters to vote as well.

For California Republicans, that plan may sound a little familiar.

Over multiple cycles now, the California Republican Party has implored voters to drop off ballots as soon as possible.

“We may not agree with all the means that Democrats have made legal here in California, but until we elect more Republicans, we have to make sure we’re playing by the same rules,” said CAGOP Chair Jessica Millan Patterson.

“If we allow Democrats to run up the score on us for three-quarters of the game, it’s going to be very difficult to make that all up in one day,” she said.

A benefit to voters casting ballots early: The party will know who it needs to target and encourage to vote.

“Part of it is a benefit to the voter,” said Patterson. “You will stop getting mail from me. You’ll stop getting phone calls. You’ll stop getting door knocks … all of the ways that we utilize to turn out a voter, you’ll stop getting that, and you can go about your day knowing that your vote is in.”

But for the party, it’s also economics.

“When we are spending time and resources turning out a voter who will likely vote but has not voted yet, we cannot move on to new universes, people who are less likely to vote,” said Patterson, who was elected to helm the CAGOP in 2019.

She pointed to Assemblymember Greg Wallis, who won his 47th district seat in Riverside and San Bernardino counties by just 85 votes.

Republicans who voted early in that race allowed the party to target those who may not have otherwise voters, she said.

The CAGOP has embraced early voting for several years now — the party also adopted ballot harvesting in recent elections, where people can turn in a ballot for someone else, under certain conditions — and Patterson said this year’s primary showed success.

More than 300,000 Republicans (about 14 percent of all Republicans who voted) returned a ballot earlier this year than they traditionally did, according to CAGOP figures. And more than 200,000 (8 percent of Republicans who voted) had never returned a ballot early but did so in the primary, said Patterson.

“We’re seeing the work that we’re doing pay off,” she said.