Priorities USA Will Pour $20 Million Into Voting Rights Efforts


Priorities United States, one of the largest Democratic super-PACs, plans to announce Tuesday that it will pour $ 20 million into voting initiatives ahead of the 2022 election cycle to enhance Republican-led electoral laws with digital advertising and organization, as well as the Dishes.

The digital effort includes a series of large-scale voter information campaigns that go beyond a more traditional approach that would consist solely of persuasion displays. The overall goal of the group is to help people navigate a new electoral landscape created by the many new restrictions put in place by Republicans in at least 16 states. The campaigns will also provide voting tools such as SMS reminders to register to vote or request a postal vote.

“The purpose of this program is to really center those voters who we know are particularly hard hit by Republican repression,” said Danielle Butterfield, executive director of Priorities USA. “These are colored voters, especially blacks and Latinos, and we plan to center them in both our creative and our alignment to make sure they are aware of how empowering voting is.”

The other significant investment will be in the legal area, where the group has served as a leading litigation attorney in voting procedures across the country. Priorities The US joined lawsuits in 10 states during the 2020 election and its aftermath, opposing legal attempts by Donald J. Trump’s campaign to overturn election results and push back new electoral laws. Although Priorities didn’t sued a state in response to new election restrictions this year, group officials said more legal efforts would soon follow.

The initial $ 20 million investment from Priorities comes as Democrats across the country struggle to fight back Republican push to restrict voting. Opposition from big business, religious groups, civil rights groups, and celebrities has done little to prevent new electoral laws in key states like Georgia, Florida, Iowa, and Arizona. Even a dramatic late night Democratic strike in Texas that effectively killed a Republican voting bill in the state should be a passing victory as the governor promised to pass new voting bills through a special session of the legislature.

The Supreme Court will also pass a ruling on the Voting Rights Act in the coming days, which may further weaken its protection from voting restrictions. And Washington Democrats seem on the verge of defeat of their sweeping referendum bill, the For the People Act, with Republicans united in opposition and moderate Democrats unwilling to kill the filibuster to pass the bill .

Of course, the new laws will continue to make it difficult for some people to vote, and voter education and awareness-raising efforts can only go so far. Priorities US said it will continue to explore other ways to help people vote.

“Most voting advocates and people who do this work would say we don’t have to try to narrow it down to just one area of ​​work,” said Aneesa S. McMillan, an associate director at Priorities USA who oversees the voting efforts. “We have to think about a multi-pronged approach.”

The organization of campaigns is becoming increasingly popular for Democrats to counteract new electoral laws. This month the Texas Democratic Party announced the largest voter registration push in its history, with the goal of registering two million new voters and investing approximately $ 14 million in the effort.

In addition to informing voters, an important part of Priorities USA’s digital efforts will be addressing voting disinformation.

The struggle for the right to vote

After former President Donald J. Trump made false claims over the past few months that the 2020 elections were stolen from him, Republican lawmakers in many states have moved forward to pass laws that make voting harder and how elections are conducted, which changes what Democrats and Democrats even frustrated some election officials in their own party.

    • A central theme: The rules and procedures of elections have become central to American politics. According to the research institute Brennan Center for Justice, the legislature had passed 22 new laws in 14 states by May 14, in order to make the voting process more difficult.
    • The basic measures: Restrictions vary by state, but may include restricting the use of ballot boxes, adding identification requirements for voters requesting postal ballot papers, and removing local laws that allow automatic registration for postal voting.
    • Other extreme measures: Some measures go beyond changing voting behavior, including adjusting electoral college and judicial voting rules, cracking down on citizen-led electoral initiatives, and banning private donations that provide resources to conduct elections.
    • Recoil: These Republican efforts have resulted in Democrats in Congress finding a way to pass federal voting laws. A major voting bill was passed in the House of Representatives in March, but it has faced difficult obstacles in the Senate, including from Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia. Republicans have remained closed to the proposal, and even if the bill went into effect, it would most likely face major legal challenges.
    • Florida: Measures here include restricting the use of mailboxes, introducing additional identification requirements for postal ballot papers, requiring voters to request a postal vote at every election, restricting who can pick up and dropping ballots, and further empowering partisan observers during the vote counting process.
    • Texas: The Texas Democrats successfully blocked the state’s extensive voting law known as SB 7 in a nightly strike and launched a large nationwide registration program that focuses on racially diverse communities. But the state’s Republicans have promised to return in a special session and pass a similar voting bill. SB 7 includes new postal voting restrictions; granted the party election observers a broad new autonomy and authority; escalated penalties for mistakes or offenses by election officials; and banned both drive-through voting and 24-hour voting.
    • Other states: Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a law that would restrict the distribution of postal ballots. The bill, which provides for voters to be removed from the state’s standing pre-election list if they do not cast a vote at least every two years, may be just the first in a series of voting restrictions enacted there. Georgia Republicans passed sweeping new electoral laws in March that restrict ballot boxes and make the distribution of water within certain boundaries of a polling station a misdemeanor. And Iowa has imposed new restrictions, including shortening the deadline for early voting and voting in person on election day.

“We want to make sure we do our part to clear up and break through any misinformation and disinformation that thrives on voter suppression,” said Ms. McMillan.

Priorities USA officials said they expected the group’s initial investment of $ 20 million to increase significantly, but that setting aside the current budget now was critical to the effort.

“We’re starting this conversation early because we want to make sure we raise the alarm bells early to see how much work needs to be done to respond to this Republican effort,” Ms. Butterfield said.