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Democratic-Aligned Voter Registration Website Harvests Personal Data for Partisan, Political Messaging

(This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty.)

Update: Sometime on Monday after Broad + Liberty had requested comment from the owners of, the website was changed so that the top option was “Check your Registration” as opposed to “Register to Vote.” The Internet Archive contains numerous captures of the website that show was offering voter registration.

If you were to visit the website, you can enter your personal information, and the website will register you to vote with the Pennsylvania Department of State.

But don’t be surprised a few weeks later if the website is also sliding into your text messages urging you to vote for your local Democratic candidate, or maybe begins sending you even more political mailers than you already get each fall. sounds very much like the real Pennsylvania Department of State website: The website’s logo — a deep blue outline of Pennsylvania with a white “vote” inside the borders — looks thematically similar to the blue keystone with a white “PA” used in official state websites.

But tucked away at the bottom of the page is the note that the site is a project of Commonwealth Communications, a 501(c)4 political nonprofit run by J.J. Abbott, Governor Wolf’s former press secretary turned political operative.

The website’s privacy policy page (which studies say less than nine percent of website visitors actually read those disclaimers) makes clear: “We may use your personal information in connection with our political efforts and activities.” And of note, asks for a phone number, while the state website does not.

And, “We reserve the right to share your personal information to third parties as part of any potential business or asset sale…” — meaning the website is well within its rights to sell data collected from a visitor.

Broad + Liberty reached out to Abbott through emails publicized both on federal filings as well as on Commonwealth Communications’ website. Additionally, we reached out through a phone number listed on its Facebook page. The requests for comment were not returned or were not successful.

At least two Democratic state senators have promoted the website using their campaign-associated X accounts. Elected officials have greater leeway to promote various political messages through campaign-associated accounts when compared to “official” state accounts used to interact with the public.

Last week, Sen. Judy Schwank (Berks) told her followers “Please make sure your voter registration is up to date,” and then linked to in the post.

“I really want to earn your vote, but first we have to make sure you’re registered to cast it,” Sen. Jay Costa (Allegheny) said, while also linking to the website.

If the senators were tricked by the website — or alternately, if they approve of using the website to build a political database — they aren’t saying. Requests for comment to both were not returned.

Additionally, Gov. Josh Shapiro attended a voter registration event at Penn State Abington last Sunday, which was organized by two groups that promote on their own websites.

Shapiro can be seen on social media posts at the event hosted by The Voter Project and “Show Up Strong ‘24.” The latter group has an email address on its website that belongs to The Voter Project, so it is possible the two groups are the same. But both websites point people to to register.

A request for comment to Shapiro’s office was not returned.

Some Republican communications have pointed people to a web URL that is not the Department of State’s website: That URL, however, redirects to the Department of State.

“Third-party organizations should under no circumstances collect people’s personal information under the guise of ‘voter registration,’” House Appropriations Chairman Seth Grove said.  “House Bill 1300, a comprehensive and bipartisan election code update bill I authored last session, would have outlawed this practice. Unfortunately, Governor Wolf vetoed this bill because HB 1300 contained a Voter ID provision. Wolf, of course, changed his position a few weeks later, but his veto has left scores of unresolved election issues. is an obvious attempt to steal information from voters or potential voters who are very likely looking for the Department of State’s website. I believe all elected officials should call out these websites as bad actors and commit to sharing official government websites.”

The Department of State did not respond to a request for comment. Additionally, the Committee of Seventy, a nonprofit that, according to its website, “advances representative, ethical and effective government in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania,” also declined to comment.

The Voter Project is run by Kevin Mack who is a partner in Deliver Strategies, a Washington D.C.-based political consulting and political mailing firm. The Voter Project was a key player in the distribution of election grants in 2020 that later became controversial and have since been outlawed in Pennsylvania.

Not long after the 2020 election, Kevin Mack’s professional online bio said he “served as Lead Strategist for The Voter Project in Pennsylvania which was instrumental in signing up over 3.2 million people to vote by mail and leading the soft-side effort to win the swing state in 2020.” The biography is no longer available on Deliver Strategies’ website.

The Voter Project and also have a close professional relationship. According to Commonwealth Communications’ IRS 990 form for 2022, Commonwealth spent $1.1 million with Deliver Strategies for consulting.

Commonwealth Communications was seeded by PA Alliance Action, a 510(c)4 political nonprofit. According to PA Alliance Action’s most recent 990 filing with the IRS, the group gave approximately $2.6 million to Commonwealth Communications, with as much as $2 million of that money specifically earmarked as being available for the creation of

Montco Commissioner Makhija Touts New College Student Voter Registration Program

In a recent podcast interview, Montgomery County Commissioner Neil Makhija, who chairs the county Election Board, discussed participating in a voting roundtable hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Harris said the federal government is going to make it easier to register to vote. One change is to hire college students through the work-study program to register voters.

At a “meeting with Voting Rights Leaders to Discuss the Fight for Voting Rights and Other Fundamental Freedoms,” as the White House labeled it, Harris touted the administration’s “work to promote voter participation for students.”

“For example, under the federal work study program, we now allow students to get paid, through federal work-study, to register people and to be nonpartisan poll workers,” Harris said.

The new policy is part of President Joe Biden’s 2021 “Promoting Access to Voting” executive order. On Monday, the Department of Education issued an advisory explaining how federal tax dollars can be used to pay students to register other students to vote. The money will be drawn out of Federal Work Study (FWS) funds.

“Voting is fundamental to our democracy, and our schools and colleges play an important role in helping our students become active participants in our democratic society,”  U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

Voter turnout in Pennsylvania is up because of voting by mail, said Makhija, a lawyer who taught election law at the University of Pennsylvania.

But “there are a lot of concerns about the right to vote and voter suppression,” said Makhija. A Department of Justice task force will train local election officials in security.

People who interact with the federal government human services, Social Security, and parks will be given material about how to register to vote in their state.

“The final piece that I’m really excited about is they changed the federal work study guidelines so that if you’re a student, and you’re on work study, you will be be able to get paid for working as a poll worker or working in a capacity registering voters. So this is great. Because we want young people to vote and we want young people to participate early,” said Makhija.

“We in Montgomery County are going to take extra steps with our 20 or so colleges to encourage young people and even get paid for it through work study, to participate, to serve as poll workers and to really be part of that bedrock of our Democratic process.”

Some of those students will be getting federal tax dollars to help create even more registered voters in  Democrat-dominated towns.

DVJournal asked Makhija about fears that partisan politics may be at play in the bid to pay college students to register voters. DVJournal noted the Swarthmore precinct where the students cast their ballots voted 85 percent for the Democratic presidential candidate in a state that the president carried by 1 percent.

“So, a Democratic White House is going to use taxpayer’s dollars to have college students register voters and work at the polls?” DVJournal asked.

Makhija said it will be “a whole of government process to enfranchise everyone…fighting for voting rights for everyone. We want to make sure that people in nursing homes (and) people with disabilities have a chance to vote by mail. All of these steps we can take to make sure that everyone has a chance to make their voice heard.”

Not everyone thinks paying college kids to register new voters is a good idea.

“While we support involvement in the political process, we do not support taxpayer-funded electioneering. This is another example of Democrats trying to stack the deck because they know they are playing a bad hand,” Pennsylvania House Minority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said.

“If Democrats, both nationally and in Pennsylvania, stopped obstructing comprehensive election reform changes, they would be encouraging more people to voluntarily participate in the election process rather than improperly expending taxpayer resources to cajole unenthusiastic participants to work for their electoral benefit,” said Cutler.

In nursing homes, residents are vulnerable to voter fraud, such as in an instance where a woman who never voted before suddenly cast a mail-in vote from her Delaware County nursing home. And while many officials like to downplay the possibility of voter fraud, especially with mail-in ballots, a recent Heartland Institute poll showed one in five people who they asked admitted taking part in some variation of mail-in voter fraud.

In Chester County, a group of citizens double-checked the voting rolls, finding a plethora of people who were registered to vote but had moved or given the address of an office building or other improbable location.

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GOP Makes Gains in DelVal Voter Registration Numbers

A Democrat in the governor’s mansion. A Democratic majority on the state Supreme Court. And two elected Democrats in the U.S. Senate for the first time since 1947. (Republican Arlen Specter switched parties).

The Pennsylvania GOP entered 2024 knowing it had a lot of work to do — particularly in the Delaware Valley.

And early voter registration numbers show they’re making progress. Modest, perhaps, but progress nonetheless.

Official voter registration totals from Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties show party registration is growing, though Democrats still lead in overall registration totals.

The appetite of the electorate may be why Pennsylvania’s major parties both saw their numbers rise.

“I’m a firm believer that your voter registration status is a lagging indicator of where you are politically,” GOP strategist Chris Nicholas of Eagle Consulting told DVJournal. “It takes a while for you to say, ‘You know what? I’ve been registered X, but I’ve been voting Y the last bunch of years, so maybe I should become Y.”

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Mike Marinella has a more aggressive explanation.

“The word ‘Democrat’ means something different to Pennsylvanians now than it did years ago. The Democrat Party has become too extreme for the voters of the Delaware Valley. Voters feel the impact of extreme Democrats’ failed policies every day as prices get higher, crime is on the rise, and families are being torn apart by fentanyl.”

Delaware Valley Republicans made most of their gains in Bucks County, with GOP registrations rising from 193,123 last May to 195,000 today. Democrat registrations fell from 198,487 to 197,853, leaving them with a narrow advantage of fewer than 3,000 votes.

Compare that to a decade ago, when during the 2014 general election, Democrats had a solid 186,865 to 174,666 advantage over Bucks County Republicans.

“The whole thing is just dissatisfaction with what’s happening in Washington,” Bucks County Republican Party chair Pat Poprik told DVJournal. “It’s driving [formerly registered Democrats] to either the third party or to us. But it’s one common thing: We’re all watching this county.”

Bucks County Democratic Executive Director Zach Kirk did not respond to a request for comment.

There are about 80,000 unaffiliated and third-party registered voters in Bucks, up from 78,382 last May.

Other counties also saw GOP growth as well.

In Chester County, GOP registration rose from 149,567 in May to 151,505. But Democratic registrations rose, too, from 156,994 to 158,604. While that margin means Republicans can be competitive, it’s also a reminder of how far the party has fallen from 2014, when the GOP had a 148,355 to 126,551 advantage.

Other Chester County registrations include 18 voters with Conservative Party affiliations; 10 registered as Independent Republicans, and two voters total registered as ‘GOP’ and ‘Trump’ parties. There are also six Socialists, 14 Independent Democrats, two Democratic Socialists, and one each for Communist, Obama, Socialist Party USA, and the Socialist Progressive Parties.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s long-forgotten Forward Party had one registered voter.

For Montgomery County, the Republican Party added about 1,000 voters, bringing its total to around 204,000. Democrats saw a similar rise, going from 301,543 to 302,330. That 100,000 Democratic advantage is about twice as big as it was a decade ago. Holding steady in Montgomery County is progress for the GOP.

In Delaware County, however, the roles — and rolls — are reversed. Democratic registrations rose from 201,616 to 203,316, while GOP numbers ticked up from by fewer than 1,000 votes to 146,224. In 2014, Democrats had just a 172,601 to 168,744 lead.

The net result is a GOP that’s gaining but is still far behind. And, adds Jeff Jubelirer of Bellevue Communications Group, registrations don’t necessarily translate into votes.

“Most people don’t change their registration, even if they change their ideology. You look at the coalition that helped elect Donald Trump in 2016. Many of those same people were blue-collar Democrats who are now much more Republican.

“Did some change their registration? Sure. But I think a number of folks may be still registered as Democrats but are voting Republican,” Jubelirer added.

He said there are also moderate Republicans who generally find themselves supporting Democrats more than they had in the past. “They’re more the Reagan Republicans and the Mitt Romneys…the traditional country club business moderate.”

The Delaware Valley, once a GOP stronghold, has become largely blue. Jubelirer said migration from the heavily Democratic cities to the suburbs helped bring about the shift. That trend caused Democratic voter rolls to increase while Republicans lagged behind.

While much of the focus remains on the two major parties, trends show that unaffiliated voters are a force to be reckoned with nationwide. Gallup reported in January that 43 percent of Americans considered themselves independent. Republicans and Democrats were tied at 27 percent. That’s a historical low for Democrats and two points off the low of 25 percent for the GOP.

“Nobody wants to be a Republican or a Democrat anymore,” Nick Gillespie, editor-at-large of Reason magazine, told DVJournal. “These are dead parties that have ceased to represent the factions that they were created in the post-war era to represent. The independents are the place to go.”

The number is much smaller in Pennsylvania. According to Pennsylvania Department of State statistics, there are almost 1.3 million voters who belong to a Third Party or are registered Independent/No Affiliation.

It’s still a trend that analysts believe is worth noting.

“When I got active as a professional in politics here in the late 80s, the state was like seven percent independent,” said Nicholas. “And now it’s basically doubled that.”

Gillespie, who co-wrote a book called “The Declaration of Independents” in 2012, sees the change as something that started years ago. “This is a long-term structural trend that exists not just in the United States,” he said, pointing towards Brexit and the election of Emmanuel Macron as French president. “People are finally done with the zombie political and kind of cultural institutions of the postwar Europe.”

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PA Lawmakers Sue Biden, Shapiro, Over Executive Orders on Voting

Twenty-four Pennsylvania legislators filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Thursday against President Joe Biden, Gov. Josh Shapiro, and Pennsylvania Secretary of State Al Schmidt, asking for an injunction to stop changes to voter registration that they claim are unconstitutional.

The Republican lawmakers claim Shapiro and Biden usurped the role of the state legislature to make laws concerning voting.

Last September, Shapiro announced people would automatically be registered to vote when they get their driver’s licenses or state government ID. However, because he did not go to the legislature to ask them to pass a law first, they said his action was unconstitutional.

“The citizens of Pennsylvania have been victimized by the extraordinary overreach of executive officials who have made changes to election laws with no authority to do so. If we don’t take action to stop this, there is no limit to the changes they might make to further erode Pennsylvania’s election system in 2024 and beyond,” said Rep. Dawn Keefer (R-York).

On March 7, 2021, Biden signed Executive Order 14019, requiring all federal agencies to develop a plan to increase voter registration and increase voter participation or get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts, the suit said.

The legislators claim that the action was unconstitutional.

In response to EO 14019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced federal health centers located across the country, including Pennsylvania, get involved in voter registration activities. The Department of Education “dear colleague” letter to universities, including those located in Pennsylvania, directing them to use Federal Work Study funds “to support voter registration activities,” whether they occur “on or off-campus.”

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development likewise instructed more than 3,000 public housing authorities, which manage approximately 1.2 million public housing units across the country, including Pennsylvania, to run voter registration drives in those units, the suit said.

Other agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture and the General Services Administration, began similar initiatives, the suit said. The GSA, which administers federally-owned buildings, including those located in Pennsylvania, is now available for voter registration drives by third-party organizations, regardless of whether the agency or agencies that own or operate out of those buildings have received an NVRA designation.

While Keefer chairs the Pennsylvania Freedom Caucus, not all of the legislators involved are members. Also, the group of lawmakers are not using taxpayer funds to pay for the lawsuit, which was filed by Attorney Erick Kaardal, a partner of Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, along with the nonprofit Election Research Institute.

“Over the past few years, we have seen nonlegislative officials in various states taking it upon themselves to set election rules,” said Karen DiSalvo, attorney and vice president of the Election Research Institute. “This is not the function of the executive branch. This case is an attempt to put an end to that practice in Pennsylvania.”

Keefer said the group chose Erickson because of his track record in the field.

“We talked to a lot of attorneys,” she said. They wanted to bring a federal rather than state lawsuit because of the nature of Pennsylvania courts. The state Supreme Court is majority Democrat. And by waiting until 2024, the legislators have standing since their names will be on the ballot this year.

Keefer is running for state Senate.

“It is abundantly clear that Gov. Shapiro’s commonsense action to securely streamline voter registration and enhance election security is within the administration’s authority. Any suggestion that the administration lacks the authority to implement automatic voter registration is frivolous. This administration looks forward to once again defending our democracy in court against those advancing extreme, undemocratic legal theories,” said Manuel Bonder, a spokesman for Shapiro.

“Gov. Shapiro remains focused on protecting our democracy and ensuring our elections are free, fair, safe, and secure.”

Amy Gulli, spokeswoman for the Department of State, said, “State law grants the Secretaries of the Commonwealth and Transportation broad authority to determine the form of Pennsylvania’s combined driver’s license and voter registration form. Contentions that the changes to the voter registration process through the Department of Transportation in September 2023 – which have resulted in a 44 percent increase in new voter registrations over the same time period two years ago – violate federal or state law are groundless. Those changes are, in fact, consistent with both the National Voter Registration Act and Pennsylvania law.

“With respect to the Department’s HAVA-Matching Directive issued in 2018, that too is fully consistent with applicable law and remains active,” she said.

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Dobbs Decision Spurs Voter Registrations Among DelVal Women

Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Pennsylvania women have been outpacing men by 12 percent in registering to vote, according to voter data firm Target Smart. That is significant because both Democrats at the top of the ticket are outperforming their GOP opponents among women, the latest polls show.

A Pew Research Center poll released in August revealed abortion was an essential issue for 56 percent of voters this election — a 10 percent jump since March. While there has been no difference in the importance of the abortion issue among Republican voters since March, the importance among Democrat voters increased to 71 percent — a 25 percent jump since the landmark ruling.

In Montgomery County, female voters registering as Democrats has been six times higher than Republican registration since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Comparing male voters, Democrat registration is around two times greater than Republicans. According to data, 511 women have switched to the Democratic Party, while just 211 women have switched to the Republican Party, according to Kelly Cofrancisco, Montgomery County’s director of communications.

In Bucks County, the shift in women’s voter registration hasn’t been as significant. Four days before the ruling, 19,061 more women were registered as Democrats than Republicans, according to Bucks County voter registration data. On September 6, the gap between Democrat and Republican registrations for women increased only by 559. During the same period, the gap between Democrat and Republican male registrations grew by 336.

Both Chester and Delaware County spokespeople told DVJournal they couldn’t provide complete information about the sex of newly-registered voters. However, since the ruling, the Chester Democratic Party added 1,471 more new voters than the GOP.

U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester) said abortion rights are a priority for her campaign, providing a distinct difference between her GOP opponent, business leader Guy Ciarrocchi.

“On one hand, Chrissy will continue to fight until Roe is the law of our land,” said Shane Wolfe, her campaign manager. “On the other is a candidate who supports the extremists in Washington and Harrisburg trying to pass a nationwide abortion ban without exceptions for rape and incest. Voters need to know where their candidates stand on this key issue. And since the Dobbs decision, we have seen a surge of volunteers, donations, and voter registrations to support Chrissy’s election.”

Ciarrocchi pushed back on Houlahan’s attacks.

“I don’t rely on the media to educate me on ‘what women think,” said Ciarrocchi, the father of two daughters and a son, who has coached girls’ softball for 23 years. “The Inquirer story, unfortunately, continues a pattern of dividing-up Americans into political ‘camps’—based on gender, race, geography, etc. and making generalizations.”

A weak economy, rising crime, and students falling behind are at the forefront of Ciarrocchi’s campaign because those are the issues that unite everyone, he said.

“There have been a lot of twists and turns and news stories during this campaign, but the issues have remained constant,” Ciarrocchi said. “Gas is too expensive, inflation is robbing us of our paychecks and savings, violent crime is on the rise, and too many parents feel powerless as their kids fall behind academically and emotionally.”

EMILY’s List, a pro-choice political action committee, has donated $11,600 during this current election cycle to Houlahan’s campaign according to Open Secrets.

That PAC also donated $34,845 to Rep. Susan Wild’s campaign. Wild also received $8,500 from another pro-choice PAC known as A Woman’s Place. Redistricting led Wild’s seat to lean more Republican, according to the Cook Political Report. A recent poll revealed that 47 percent of respondents would vote for Republican challenger Lisa Scheller and 43 percent for Rep. Wild.

Among Democrat Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon’s top ten donors this election cycle is A Woman’s Place. Thus far, Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) has received $10,000. Her opponent, Republican Dave Galluch, is also unfazed by the uptick in voter registration among women, according to campaign manager Joe Luongo.

“From the start of his campaign, Dave has been focused on issues that are hurting families and women,” Luongo said. “Having been raised by a single mother, Dave knows first-hand the impact higher grocery and gas prices have on families, especially single mothers. Dave doesn’t need a poll to know that real leadership would never allow for a shortage of baby formula.”

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GOP Voter Registration Guru Scott Presler Brings His Magic to Bucks County

Conservative activist Scott Presler is hoping to create an army of “professional voter registrars” in his likeness to bring thousands of new Republicans to the polls in the midterm elections in battleground states like Pennsylvania.

The son of a retired Navy captain said he has gotten so good at the gig that he has even done it from the comfort of a hot tub.

Presler was in Bucks County earlier this week hoping to help elect Republicans like Pennsylvania gubernatorial hopeful Doug Mastriano and U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Presler called Bucks County an “all-important bellwether” district that predicted presidential winners in past elections

“I’ve got the information, but I’m one human being,” Presler told the Delaware Valley Journal in an interview. “I want to create more Scott Preslers across the country. So my goal is, when I go out and knock with these members of the community, I want to teach them and train them for when I’m not here, so they can do the work without me.”

Presler’s first stop was the Doylestown Borough and Township Republican Club, followed by a speaking engagement before the Pennridge Area Republican Club in Perkasie.

Presler–dressed in a pink shirt, tight blue jeans, and cowboy boots–was quick to open up the voter-registration playbook with a few trade secrets for dozens of the area’s staunchest Republicans.

Part of his strategy centered on trolling prominent Democrats online.

Whenever President Joe Biden posts on his official White House Facebook page, Presler is quick to comment about how the Democrat’s failed “regressive policies” have hurt Americans.

“If you’re unhappy with Joe Biden, then please register to vote at your current address. I’m happy to assist any and all of you in registering to vote,” said Presler, showing volunteers an example of one of his boilerplate “anti-Biden” attacks that got him 480 “likes and hearts.”

It is a telltale sign to Presler that Americans are dissatisfied with Biden – and Democrats in general.

“That shouldn’t be happening. It should be angry faces,” he said. “I used Joe Biden’s White House Facebook page to register a new Republican voter. It’s so fun.”

Before deciding to enter into the realm of political activism, Presler was a dog walker. He remembers when, at age 24, he watched Barack Obama win re-election in 2012 and felt powerless. Then, in 2019, he was inspired to get involved by then-President Donald Trump’s criticism of Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat-and-rodent-infested mess” where no one wanted to live.

Those remarks propelled Presler to organize a cleanup of the city’s “most dangerous streets.” The event was a smashing success, with hundreds of volunteers helping pick up 12 tons of trash in a single day, Presler said.

He’s replicated the event in virtually every big city in America, from Atlanta to Philadelphia. And now he’s doing the same circuit again, this time focused on voter registration.

For his efforts, the Virginia-born political operative has been both praised and vilified as an “American Patriot” and a “nutty MAGA conspiracy theorist.”

He spoke at CPAC in 2021, and in the same stroke, found himself in the crosshairs of the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. Presler was slammed for serving as a top strategist for ACT for America, which the ADL and SPLC called one of the largest anti-Muslim hate groups in the U.S.

Presler’s speaking engagements in other cities have attracted counter-protestors and some have events been canceled. But not much of the criticism seems to phase Presler, who pushed back against the idea that he’s anti-Muslim by touting his support for Dr. Oz as he seeks to become the first Muslim to serve in the U.S. Senate.

And the political activist’s supporters don’t scare easily, either.

“We’re used to the name-calling, and we know it never amounts to anything,” said Kim Bedillion, president of the Pennridge Area Republican Club. “The Southern Poverty Law Center goes after many conservative, mainstream Republicans and Christian organizations and paints them as difficult. We’re used to that and we’re used to being called names like ‘deplorable’ and ‘Bible-thumper.’ We take that as a point of pride. If the Southern Poverty Law Center is going after Scott Presler, God bless him. We don’t get defensive; we just do the work.”

That work includes mounting voter-registration drives at gas stations, with “Pain at the Pump” signs in tow, ubiquitous Wawa convenience stores, Home Depots, and gun shops–all hubs for Republican voters, as Presler tells it.

He pointed to a “50-50 split” during a recent gas-station drive in a reliably blue part of New York as a potential harbinger for what’s to come.

He told volunteers to think as Democrats do in terms of their target audiences, noting they are likely to be at high schools, nursing homes, and “graveyards,” a riff on the old joke about dead people voting Democrat.

“You’re gonna have a lot of these angry mama bear events. Those people that show up are going to be the doers. Politics needs to be inescapable for the next five months,” he said.

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Dem Organization Floods Chester County Mailboxes With Ballot Applications, Sparking Concerns

Chester County election officials want residents to know the mailings voters are receiving from Democrat-affiliated nonprofits are not official and they are not coming from the county.

“Two political advocacy groups, the Voter Participation Center (VPC) and the Center for Voter Information (CVI), will be conducting unsolicited direct mailings to Pennsylvania residents consisting of voter registration applications and vote-by-mail applications,” a county spokesperson said Monday. “These mailings will reportedly arrive on or about Monday, April 25, and are not endorsed by, or affiliated with, the Chester County Board of Elections or Chester County Voter Services.”

And those groups “bear all responsibility for the mailings, including any mailings that contain incorrect information,” the county said.

Tom Lopach is president and CEO of the VPC and CVI. He said the Washington, D.C.-based group sending mailings to voters statewide wants to register what Lopach calls “the new American majority.”

He said that “majority” is comprised of “people of color, young people and unmarried women.” Those groups tend to register to vote and turn out to vote in lower numbers than other groups. CVI and its sister group, VPC, also help turn out those voters.

“Our mission is to help increase voters in these three groups,” Lopach told Delaware Valley Journal.  He has been involved with the organization since March 2020 and said registering voters is “a proud thing to do” and “very patriotic.”

Lopach is also a longtime Democratic operative who has worked on multiple campaigns. The progressive news organization Pro Publica reported his organizations’ efforts pouring millions of unsolicited voter registrations into mailboxes during the 2020 election created confusion among voters and consternation among election officials.

“It’s not about the good that one organization does,” Jared Dearing, director of Kentucky’s State Board of Elections and a Democrat said at the time. “It’s about the net value for the whole system. If you register one person but create so much anxiety and consternation, how many voters get so turned off they don’t interact with the system at all?”

CPI sent 2.2 million vote-by-mail applications to registered voters in Pennsylvania. Lopach said they use forms that were approved by the state.

According to Lopach’s definition, the “new American majority” includes 5 million people in Pennsylvania or 52 percent of the state’s voting-eligible population. People 18 to 35 years old are about 29 percent of those eligible to vote; people of color, including Blacks and Hispanics, are 18 percent; and single women are 26 percent.

Asked whether his organization had received funding from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, so-called “Zuck Bucks” that some believe helped sway the 2020 election for Democrats, Lopach said his organization does not discuss donors, nor is it required to disclose its donors, who are foundations and individuals.

“We are reminding Pennsylvania voters that voting in primary elections is easy. In Pennsylvania you can vote by mail, early in-person, or in-person on Election Day,” Lopach said. “We are providing more than 2.2 million registered Pennsylvania voters with official vote-by-mail applications, allowing them to sign them and drop them in the mail without ever leaving their homes. So make your plan to vote today and participate in our great democracy.”

“CVI and its sister organization, the Voter Participation Center (VPC), together run the nation’s largest mail-based and digital voter engagement programs,” the groups said in a press release. “In 2020, VPC and CVI helped 4.6 million voters sign up to vote by mail.”

While Lopach insists his groups are nonpartisan, others disagree with that assessment.

According to research by Hayden Ludwig of the think tank Capital Research Center, Lopach’s two organizations were founded by Page Gardner, who was a campaign staffer for former President Bill Clinton. Lopach said he knows Gardner but added he did not realize she had worked for Clinton. Lopach also has a background in Democratic politics. He had previously worked for Democrat Steve Bullock, former governor of Montana, and was executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“Gardner’s groups take advantage of IRS rules allowing nonprofits to engage in nonpartisan voter registration to target the ‘new American majority’—a group that gave more than 60 percent of its votes to Biden in 2020,” Ludwig said.

“The nonprofits are hardly ‘nonpartisan.’ CVI, the network’s 501(c)(4), spent $583,000 directly aiding Biden—but it’s their support for voting by mail that should concern conservatives. Unlike the right, the left is all in on funding groups that do nothing more than voter registration,” according to Ludwig. The mail-in ballots were to “flood key states with tens of millions of mail-in ballots.”

Charlotte Valyo, chair of the Chester County Democrats, said she has not had contact with either group. Chester County Republican Chairman Gordon Eck could not be reached for comment.

May 2 is the last day to register to vote in the May 17 primary. As of April 18, Chester County had 373,975 registered voters. Of those, 150,606 were Republicans and 155,604 were Democrats.

Anyone who receives an unsolicited VPC or CVI mailing who wants to be removed from the group’s mailing list must note a code near the bottom of the letter and email the code to the correct organization, county officials said.

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GOP Hopes Rising Gas Prices Bring More Support For Republicans

Republicans are trying to parley rising gasoline prices into new voter registrations as the midterm elections approach, and they are going straight to the pumps to do it.

Both here in the Delaware Valley and around the state, volunteers have taken their voter contact efforts to gas stations to entice disgruntled drivers to switch parties and register as newly minted Republicans.

“Disappointed families and workers are flipping their registration, as well as registering for the first time, thanks to pain at the pump brought on by the Biden gas hike,” said RNC spokeswoman Rachel Lee. “Pennsylvanians cannot afford more of Joe Biden’s costly war on American energy. As Keystone State families and workers suffer from the Biden Gas Hike, Republicans are registering voters in a mounting red wave ahead of November.”

Republicans reject the Democrats’ claims that rising gas prices are “Putin’s price hike,” as President Biden has put it.

“Before Russia invaded Ukraine, the average cost for a gallon of gas had already risen by $1.14 since Joe Biden became president,” she said. “The average American household could spend up to an additional $2,000 on gas this year because of the Biden Gas Hike.”

One of the volunteers is Bucks County resident Kim Bedillion, president of the Pennridge Area Republican Club.

“Trips to fill up the tank are causing hardships like never before, and as we are talking to voters at gas stations, we’re hearing that from people of all backgrounds. Republicans’ success in registering voters at gas stations shows just how fed up Pennsylvanians are with the Biden gas hike,” said Bedillion.

The Philadelphia GOP is also actively registering voters as the May 17 primary approaches. The final day to register to vote in the primary is May 2.

Shamus O’Donnell registers voters at an event for Sam Oropezo, who is running for the state Senate in Philadelphia District 5.

Its message is, “Streets that everyone feels safe to walk, in every community — meaning not just in elite progressive neighborhoods; providing the tools to everyday Philadelphians to lift themselves up and thrive both economically and socially.

“The freedom for families to choose where to send our children to school, and necessary improvements to our city’s schools — focusing on basic reading and math, not radical curriculum.”

Meanwhile, in Cheltenham, yard signs are springing up all over the township inviting people to join the Cheltenham Township Republican Organization (CTRO).

While registration shows 20,000 Democrats to fewer than 4,000 Republicans, CTRO Chair Myron Goldman hopes to bring more voters into the fold.

“Cheltenham is, in effect, a one-party township, but there is a functioning Republican organization,” he said. The Republicans field candidates and serve as watchdogs over the commissioners and school board.

“We regularly run voting registration drives at various locations in the county and also contact new move-ins to have them register Republican,” said Julia Vahey, executive director of the Montgomery County Republicans.

Felice Fein, vice-chair of the Chester County Republicans said, “The Pennsylvania GOP regional director, John Gavin, and his team are doing an organized voter registration drive throughout Chester County. They do occasional events everywhere from gas stations to restaurants. Currently, they and the Republican Committee of Chester County are focusing on people who recently moved into Chester County and encouraging them to register in time to have their voices heard in the primary election. The Pennsylvania GOP team and the county committee members are knocking on doors and providing voter registration forms as well as mail-in ballot applications if the residents are interested in voting by mail.”

Democrats still have a voter registration advantage in Pennsylvania, but the numbers are significantly narrower than during the 2018 midterms. That year, there were 4,111,325 registered Democrats and 3,270,882 Republicans, with 1,172,291 unaffiliated voters. That was a 25 percent registration advantage for Democrats over the GOP.

In the most recent available data, there are currently 4,003,113 Democrats and 3,434,125 Republicans — an advantage of just 16.5 percent. And historically Republicans have outperformed their registration numbers, which is how they held their majorities in the Statehouse in 2020, as well as picking up the state auditor and treasurer’s offices.

With predictions of a red wave — and President Biden’s approval rating down 20 points since he took office just over a year ago — Pennsylvania Republicans feel optimistic.

“Thanks to the RNC’s permanent, data-driven ground game, the voter registration gap in the Keystone State continues to narrow,” Lee said. “Republicans have closed the voter registration gap by over 200,000 registrants in the last two years. In just the last two weeks, Republicans have shrunk the gap by over 2,700 registrants.”

“Killing American energy is a promise Joe Biden has actually kept,” Lee added. “On his first day in office, Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, killing 11,000 jobs.”


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