Conservatives Fight Dems’ GOTV Machine By Building Their Own

Conservatives Fight Dems’ GOTV Machine By Building Their Own

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more energetic group of go-getters than the army of vote wranglers in the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition. SLSV, which bills itself as the “national hub & largest nonpartisan network in the country dedicated to increasing student voter participation,” is definitely dedicated. 

But the coalition, which is at best “nonpartisan” in name only, is just one of a litany of leftist groups tirelessly and cooperatively working around the nation, particularly in the election-deciding battleground states, to elect Democrats. 

The mission-focused group is but one working example of why the left is a well-oiled machine in turning out votes, especially among younger voters. But conservatives are waking up and pushing back, using some of the same get-out-the-vote (GOTV) strategies and tactics that Democrats have so effectively employed to win.  

SLSV’s monthly meeting in February featured Amanda Fuchs Miller, deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). The bureaucrat gave the clubhouse gang a rundown of DOE’s legally suspect plan to use federal work-study program funds to pay college students to register their peers and work at the polls. It’s all part of the Bidenbucks plan, the Biden administration’s sweeping get-out-the-vote campaign using federal agencies and liberal groups to target Democrat-leaning voters ahead of November’s presidential election. 

Yet there was so much more to the coalition’s February Zoom call: a presentation on the output of SLSV’s bee-busy working groups, an update on upcoming Action Plan Workshops, and a detailed discussion of the group’s goals this election year and beyond. 

The meeting opened with a partner spotlight of Tevon Blair, co-founder of Xceleader. Blair is a “strategic communicator and social equity advocate in the nonprofit and political sector,” according to his company website bio. 

Groups like SLSV and Xceleader are in it to win it all year round. 

“Students enjoy that they know that every time a presidential election or governor’s race comes around, they know there’s going to be somebody on that campus trying to get them activated,” Blair told his leftist allies on the Zoom call. 

While SLSV’s foot soldiers may be mainly made up of fresh-faced, wide-eyed left-wing college students, the organization and partner groups such as Xceleader are directed by seasoned former Democrat operatives tapped into a vast network of far-left money and resources.  

Blair worked on Democrat Stacey Abrams’ failed Georgia gubernatorial campaign. That fact might suggest how he and his organization get young voters “activated.” SLSV’s co-founder and Executive Director Clarissa Unger is a proud alumna of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. 

“Being a part of the Obama 2008 campaign was an honor and a transformative experience. 15 years later, I love that I still get to spend every day working to help students across the country have a voice in our elections. #ObamaAlumni #Obama08 #YesWeCan,” Unger wrote last November in response to Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s former senior adviser and CEO of the Obama Foundation. 

‘We Had to Do Something’

While it may seem the left is light years ahead of the right in driving voters to the polls (by hook or crook), conservative groups across the country have been working overtime to catch up. 

In battleground Michigan, where Biden won in 2020 amid myriad election administration “irregularities,” Michigan Fair Elections and Pure Integrity Michigan Elections (PIME) are more than election integrity watchdogs. As election security lioness Cleta Mitchell said on her podcast, Patrice Johnson, chairwoman of the nonprofit organizations, is doing all she can to ensure her state doesn’t “fall prey to the things that happened in 2020.” 

In the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, Johnson and some of her fellow citizens “decided to take action to help restore election integrity in Michigan,” as PIME’s website states

“There were just several of us sitting around a kitchen table after the elections, and we were grousing and doubtful and skeptical and very upset. And we decided this wasn’t going to do anything. We had to do something,” Johnson told Mitchell last year on the latter’s podcast, “Who’s Counting?

These frustrated Michiganders concluded, “If we’re going to focus on something, it had better be election integrity because without that we don’t have anything,” Johnson said. 

Among its long list of initiatives, PIME launched the Underserved Voter Outreach Team (UVOTE), charged with identifying segments of the voting population the left wants little to nothing to do with. They include people of faith, gun owners, veterans, and others — constitutional patriots, a significant portion of whom have for various reasons sat out elections. Johnson said that often these would-be voters simply haven’t been approached. 

“I think it’s very important to show them why, now more than ever, that it’s important to stand up for the Constitution and their constitutional rights and the quality of our elections,” Johnson said. “They’re good people, they’ve just been overlooked.” 

The GOTV effort is a natural offshoot of the organization’s “Soles to the Rolls” program, which encourages its growing army of volunteers to use the Check My Vote website to track potential problems in Michigan’s voter rolls. As my Federalist colleague Shawn Fleetwood reported, the free voting history database was created in the wake of Michigan’s leading Democrat election official’s refusal to clean up the Great Lakes State’s rolls. 

Soles to the Rolls has been so galvanizing that it’s earned the expected disdain of The New York Times. The Democrat Party’s mouthpiece suspects the election integrity initiative is “an apparent play on Souls to the Polls,” the far-left-funded get-out-the-liberal-vote campaign in Wisconsin. It’s all just more “election-denial movement” stuff, according to the election integrity deniers at the Times. 

Getting into the Harvest

In deep-blue California, Republicans are getting wise to one of the left’s more effective vote-capturing tools: ballot harvesting. 

Conservatives have rightly complained about the practice and the election integrity holes in such ballot-collection initiatives by third-party groups. But as CalMatters notes, the California Republican Party is “going big” on ballot harvesting in 2024. Reporter Sameea Kamal wrote in October:

In part, it’s a reflection of political reality: With a few exceptions, the Republican Party has been struggling. On top of Democratic majorities in the Legislature since 1996, no Republican has been elected statewide office since 2006. And since the COVID-19 pandemic, California has sent mail ballots to every registered voter, making it easier for people to cast their ballots earlier and not just at polling places on Election Day.

California is one of 33 states that allow voters to authorize someone else to return their absentee ballot for them, with varying limitations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California legalized the practice in 2016 but has since prohibited compensation based on the number of vote-by-mail ballots returned. Flat-rate payment is allowed. The left-wing Golden State has also barred ballot dumps at places of employment. 

Jessica Millan Patterson, chairwoman of the California GOP, did not return The Federalist’s requests for comment. But she did tell CalMatters that the party is playing by the rules they’ve been given. 

“It doesn’t make any sense to only be Election Day voters. That is like only playing three quarters of a football game,” she said, countering conservative purists who don’t want anything to do with ballot harvesting. 

‘That Can’t Happen Again’

Conservatives in the critical swing state of Arizona are finding other ways to beat Democrats at their own GOTV game, said Scot Mussi, president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. Mussi said right-of-center Arizonans are assembling a “whole coalition of different organizations so we have a ground game and a get-out-the-vote operation that beats the intensity of the left.” 

The effort begins with the Arizona Liberty Network, dedicated to helping citizens “effectively engage on political, social, cultural and economic issues affecting” the state. Mussi said the ground game initiative includes consistent and sustained Hispanic outreach. 

Hispanics are projected to account for nearly 1 in 5 voters in Arizona in November’s elections, Cronkite News reported. Hispanic voters in the last midterm election continued to back Democrats over Republicans, but a higher rate of Hispanic voters cast ballots for GOP candidates compared to the previous midterms, according to Pew Research. The gap dropped from 72 percent of Hispanics voting Democrat compared to 25 percent supporting Republicans in 2018 to 60 percent and 39 percent, respectively, in 2022. 

“Our belief is that Hispanic voters are traditionally conservative on issues like crime, culture, schools for their kids, the economy, even on immigration,” Mussi said, adding that these are the issues that conservative groups are talking about with Hispanic voters. 

The data bear out the fact that Hispanics are not some monolithic voting bloc, and their votes cannot be taken for granted. That’s particularly true among younger Hispanics.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson told Cronkite News that she started Hispanic Leadership PAC, a political action committee that supports Hispanic Republicans who run for office.

“My parents are Democrats, my brother and I are Republican. I mean, so we’ve seen a lot of shifting and changing and it really depends on the perspective people are looking towards,” Márquez Peterson told the publication.

But Mussi said the commitment to GOTV efforts has to be year-round, and conservative ground-game leaders are finally waking up to that fact. He said failing to get conservative voters engaged and effectively communicate what’s at stake will keep Joe Biden and his disastrous regime in power for another four years, with a majority in Congress to do the far-left’s will. 

“When we reviewed 2022, we found we experienced a drop off in Republican voting performance. That can’t happen again,” the conservative leader said. “We need to make sure conservatives and independent voters believe that Biden has led us in a wrong direction and make sure they are showing up.” 

Matt Kittle is a senior elections correspondent for The Federalist. An award-winning investigative reporter and 30-year veteran of print, broadcast, and online journalism, Kittle previously served as the executive director of Empower Wisconsin.

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