WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee launched a new program on Wednesday focused primarily on registering voters of color ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

DNC officials say the program, backed by a nearly $5 million initial investment, is the committee’s largest-ever registration push during a midterm election cycle.

The effort comes amid what DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison said is a time of “nervousness” among the party’s supporters, as they wait to see if Democratic lawmakers in Washington are able to pass key parts of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“One thing I’ve learned is you can’t sit on your hands, and you can’t sit in the corner and say, ‘Woe is me,’” Harrison said. “You have to roll up your sleeves, tie up your boots, and get ready to do what’s necessary to put ourselves in a better position to win races.

“While we’re working through this process in D.C. in terms of legislation on the federal level, we have to do all we can do from the DNC’s perspective,” he added.

While the voter registration effort is national, Harrison said the DNC is mindful of states with key Senate elections in 2022. A DNC press release touting the new program specifically mentioned Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada, each of which is expected to have a competitive Senate race next year.

Democratic candidates traditionally rely heavily on Black, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander voters for support, with each group giving Biden a strong majority of their vote in 2020. But Biden still fared worse with those voters than recent Democratic presidential nominees, prompting concern among party officials that Republicans are making inroads with them.

Harrison said the money the DNC is spending on the program will include deploying field staffers to targeted areas, online outreach, phone calls and funding existing voter-registration efforts from state parties.

The 2020 election featured the highest voter turnout rate in more than a century, aided by the polarizing presence of former President Donald Trump on the ballot. Democratic strategists have centered many of their nascent 2022 strategies on trying to convince many of the more than 81 million people who voted for Biden to turn out again to vote for the party’s congressional candidates.

Harrison said he thinks Democrats can still find new voters despite the historic turnout of the last election, citing the party’s decision to mostly abandon door-knocking efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. Restarting those field programs could help the party in that effort, he said.

“We’re going to be knocking on doors,” Harrison said. “We’ve learned how to do it in a safe fashion and protect people.”

Harrison said although the committee has not yet made a formal decision, he supports ensuring that anyone who knocks on a door on behalf of the Democratic Party is vaccinated.

The DNC has sought to take a more aggressive role in the midterm elections, after years in which many party leaders considered the national committee to be a political afterthought.

Harrison had previously announced a $20 million investment to begin broadly preparing for the 2022 campaign, in addition to a separate $25 million push to help people vote, including those who live in states with new restrictions on ballot access.

“We are constantly adding on top of the things that we already announced to make a stronger push for 2022,” Harrison said.


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