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Republicans Can’t Afford To Surrender The Nonprofit Voter Registration Game To Democrats

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GOP donors should take a page from Democrats’ playbook and invest in nonprofits that engage and register likely-Republican voters.


It’s no secret Democrats are always looking for ways to manipulate election rules to their advantage — and voter registration is no exception.

Over the past few election cycles, Democrats have cemented nonprofit voter registration as a major facet of their election machine. While federal law prohibits 501c(3) groups from engaging in “partisan” voter registration, the left has devised a strategy to skirt these rules and rig the system in their favor.

Instead of declaring their intent to register Democrat voters, these nonprofits, funded by leftist billionaires, target so-called “underrepresented groups” such as college-educated women, nonwhite Americans, and young people. In other words, they aim to register demographics more likely to vote for Democrats.

According to good-government groups such as Restoration of America and Capital Research Center, Democrats’ use of nonprofit voter registration is estimated to have netted them potentially millions of additional votes across key battleground states in recent elections. And given the outcome of the 2022 midterms, it appears this strategy is working.

Despite spending $4.2 billion throughout the 2022 cycle, the GOP barely managed to secure a House majority and lost the Senate (again). While leftist billionaires poured money into left-wing nonprofits to register new voters, GOP mega-donors gave tens of millions of dollars to Republican candidates, PACs, and other aligned entities, which spent a significant portion of these funds on fundraising efforts and consultants.

Meanwhile, a rough data set provided to The Federalist by Restoration of America, an election-integrity advocacy group, shows that dozens of left-wing nonprofits collectively spent hundreds of millions of dollars during the 2020 cycle on voter registration and additional expenditures, with about 150 nonprofits collectively spending over $1 billion during the 2021 cycle.

Imagine the outcome of the 2022 midterms if major GOP donors had “spent a fraction of [their] money on 501c(3) [and] 501c(4) voter registration,” a Restoration of America representative told The Federalist.

National GOP Voter Registration

In previous years, traditional GOP voter outreach has typically involved coordination among the Republican National Committee (RNC), state and local parties, and candidates. While not a nonprofit, the RNC has maintained a national voter file and provided these GOP entities with data to reach new voters.

According to an informational press release provided to The Federalist, the RNC strategy focuses on a “data-driven ground game” that seeks to recruit new voters through registration efforts and minority outreach. These get-out-the-vote efforts include door-knocking, making phone calls, and volunteer recruitment.

By the end of this year, the RNC is slated to hire political staff in 15 battleground states, including those pivotal to acquiring GOP Senate and House majorities. The organization has also opened various community centers in New York and California within the past year to boost its outreach efforts.

“With a focus on not just presidential, but House and Senate battlegrounds, our Political and Election Integrity hires are laying the groundwork to ensure we have aggressive voter contact and litigation strategies in place to win elections and hold Democrats accountable for bad laws that make voting less secure,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.

In light of Republicans’ recent election shortcomings, however, some conservatives have voiced their displeasure with how national Republicans have handled recruiting new voters. While speaking with The Federalist, Chad Connelly, the former chair of the South Carolina GOP, said personnel turnover and the “revolving door” of people encompassing national GOP politics make it difficult for groups like the RNC to maintain a uniform understanding of the issue, particularly when it comes to evangelical voters.

“It’s very frustrating because there’s … little institutional knowledge between [election] cycles, and they’ve got to go back and relearn and repay for the same lessons again,” said Connelly, who previously served as the RNC’s national director of faith engagement. “Let’s go find people who really are already good at [voter registration and outreach] and stop reinventing the wheel and recreating it.”

In the months after the 2022 midterms, the RNC launched “Bank Your Vote,” a nationwide initiative aimed at mobilizing voters and maximizing early voting ahead of Election Day. According to an RNC press release, the campaign involves collaboration between the organization’s data and digital media divisions to “target voters who are most likely to vote before Election Day.”

Can Christian Nonprofits Save the Day?

While nonprofits and political parties aren’t legally permitted to collaborate on voter registration, there are a few Republican-friendly 501c(3) groups looking to beat Democrats at their own game. Among these groups is Faith Wins, a nonprofit Connelly founded that helps faith leaders and evangelical Christians “leverage their influence and impact within the governmental and political arena.”

According to Connelly, Faith Wins has held gatherings with eight different 2024 presidential candidates across four early primary states this year, which the organization used to educate attending pastors on how to “register everybody to vote” and encourage people to vote for biblical values. Founded in 2017, the group has also been heavily active in registering new Christian voters in recent election years, most notably 2021, when its members registered approximately 77,000 Christians “who had never [previously] voted.”

“What works is voter registration. [Any] political scientist will tell you there’s a direct correlation” between registering new voters and higher voter turnout, Connelly said. “So, we are laser beam focused on maximizing [the] Christian vote and voice at every level.”

Engaged in similar efforts is CatholicVote, an advocacy organization that amplifies Catholic voices and encourages them to “live out the truths of [the Catholic] faith in public life.” CatholicVote Political Director Logan Church told The Federalist how the group pushes Catholics to “get involved in the political realm because … the fastest way to change a culture is through politics.”

“Through our Catholic Captain’s program … we help identify and train Catholic captains in parishes across the U.S.,” Church said. “We train them [to work] with their pastors and fellow parishioners to activate their parish, whether that’s [by] registering to vote or making sure their parish is getting out to vote when the time comes.”

CatholicVote’s strategy isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, however. According to Church, the group focuses its voter registration efforts on states and communities with sizable Catholic populations. So, while a state like Georgia may be important in winning presidential elections, it doesn’t boast as large a Catholic population as other battlegrounds where CatholicVote’s resources could be better spent, such as Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

The organization also practices a “bottom-up mentality” that focuses on activating Catholics at the local level, with the hope that these individuals continue their activism into state and federal politics, Church said.

Why It Matters

Combined with President Joe Biden’s executive order mandating that all federal agencies find ways to register new (and likely-Democrat) voters, the left’s embrace of nonprofit voter registration should give Republicans cause for concern. Democrats have regularly shown they have no intention of playing fair when it comes to elections, and registering new voters is no different.

Instead of having their money wasted by PACs on inefficient consultants, GOP donors should take a page from Democrats’ playbook and invest in nonprofits that engage and register likely-Republican voters. As Democrat groups like Mind the Gap have admitted, it’s a cost-effective strategy that boosts voter turnout and secures necessary electoral wins.

The GOP’s electoral survival depends on its ability to adapt to the changing election landscape. Only time will tell if they’ll do it.

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