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Voter registration surges after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, groups say

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death Friday helped prompt a surge in voter registration, according to voting groups.

Since then, these organizations have seen a wave of engagement that carried through to National Voter Registration Day, which was Tuesday, as early voting gets under way ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3. 

“I do think that the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has galvanized eligible voters, in particular, who understand the role of the Supreme Court and are concerned about the future of civil rights,” Carolyn DeWittthe president of Rock the Vote, told CNBC on Tuesday., a nonpartisan nonprofit that allows people to register through their website, saw over 40,000 new voter registrations on Saturday and Sunday, a 68% increase from the prior weekend, according to its spokesman. The website saw over 35,000 mail ballot requests on Saturday and Sunday, a 42% increase from a week earlier.

On National Voter Registration Day, processed 74,000 new voter registrations and 41,000 mail-in ballot requests. 

Many states are cutting back on restrictions for voting by mail this year, due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that Covid-19 has killed over 200,000 in America. 

Rock the Vote’s DeWitt tweeted that her group saw a wave of traffic to their website on National Voter Registration Day. The group’s spokeswoman told CNBC they had their biggest day for general website traffic so far in 2020, surpassing Super Tuesday in March. They, and other groups, had a similar surge in the wake of George Floyd’s death. 

President Donald Trump plans to select a nominee to replace Ginsburg on SaturdaySenate Republicans appear to have enough votes to call for a vote in the coming weeks. 

Democratic voters have largely shown their enthusiasm for the coming election with their increase in campaign contributions. They raised at least $100 million in the days following Ginsburg’s death, according to data from ActBlue. A Morning Consult poll shows a rise in importance of the Supreme Court for Democratic voters following Ginsburg’s death. Only 48% of Democrats surveyed said they looked at the Supreme Court as a “very important” issue prior to her passing, compared to 60% afterward. About 54% of Republicans that were polled say that the court is a “very important” issue for them. had 254,000 registration verifications on Tuesday. In the days following Ginsburg’s death, it had over 135,000 registration verifications, a 118% increase from the prior weekend. 

When We All Vote, an organization co-chaired by Michelle Obama, has seen 82,000 voters starting or completing the process of registering to vote since the weekend, according to the group’s spokeswoman. 

Vote Save America, a voter registration initiative launched by political media group Crooked Media, also had record success. The media company was founded by three alumni of President Barack Obama’s administration; Jon Favreau, Obama’s head speechwriter; Jon Lovett, a comedian and a fellow Obama administration speechwriter; and Tommy Vietor, a former White House national security spokesman. 

EJ Baker, a senior manager at Crooked Media, said that Vote Save America saw 3,400 new voter registrations between Friday and Sunday, five times the amount it did the previous weekend. The site site also saw 16,000 people verify they are registered to vote. 

“We do actively encourage people to make sure their registration is up to date and that they haven’t been removed from the rolls for whatever reason, so we see a lot of traffic to our verification tool to make sure there aren’t any issues or surprises when they go vote,” Baker told CNBC.

Vote Save America worked in tandem with NextGen America, a progressive nonprofit funded by Democratic billionaire Tom Steyer, on National Voter Registration Day to encourage young people to register. 

Ben Wessel, an executive director at NextGen, told CNBC that on Tuesday they estimate they helped over 4,700 people either register or update their voter registration records. Wessel says that “across the 15 hours of work we were doing, that’s basically one new voter registered (or updating their voter address) every 12 seconds.” 

They focused their efforts targeting potential voters between the ages of 18 and 35 in the key states of Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, Nevada and Iowa. 

While Wessel couldn’t link their success directly to Ginsburg’s passing, but the group had new volunteers who he says were reaching out to friends and family because of her death. “I think that’ll keep up over the next 41 days,” he added.

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