Because your vote counts

Group with ties to election denial pushes voter registration in Richmond

Look Ahead America — which says it is a nonpartisan organization — recently launched a voter registration push in the Richmond area. The group has ties to election denialism.

According to a release, Look Ahead America says it has identified thousands of “disaffected patriots” in Richmond that it will encourage to sign up to automatically receive absentee ballots and to return them.

“We will communicate with these voters through door knocking, direct mail, phone calls, digital ads, text messaging, robocalls, and by encouraging our national activist base of over 30,000 to send these voters personal postcards with personal messages encouraging them to vote,” the group’s executive director, Matt Braynard, stated in the release.

He added, “Everything that matters to them can be taken away if they do not vote: their parental rights, their right to self-defense, their right to attend church and go to work.”

Though the organization considers itself nonpartisan, it has been associated with people who believe the 2020 election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump. Braynard worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Look Ahead America has since played a role in supporting defendants facing charges related to participating in the Jan. 6, 2021 riot in the U.S. Capitol. The organization has promoted nationwide vigils and rallies for “J6 prisoners”, has a job board for employers sympathetic to participants, and it maintains a database of court cases related to Jan. 6 charges.

This summer, Look Ahead America launched an initiative to encourage participants to upload videos of them asking federal candidates “what you’re going to do for the January Sixth political prisoners, especially those who’ve not been charged with any violent acts.” It said the first person to upload a video asked a 2024 presidential candidate the question if they would receive a $1,000 dollar “bounty.”

A federal indictment accuses Trump of conspiring to subvert the 2020 presidential election, including by attempting to obstruct the meeting of Congress on Jan. 6 to count and certify the electoral votes. Amid Trump’s ongoing legal battles, Braynard has issued a statement through Look Ahead America challenging the indictment.

The organization’s efforts in Richmond come amid a bipartisan push in Virginia for early and absentee voting.

Look Ahead America is a client of LINK Public Affairs, which sent the release about the launch. Matt Moran, a founding partner of LINK Public Affairs, is executive director of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s PAC, Spirit of Virginia.

Moran could not be reached for comment, but Spirit of Virginia chairman Dave Rexrode issued a comment on behalf of the PAC.

“Spirit of Virginia is not coordinating our absentee and early voting outreach with this group,” he said.

While much voting used to take place on Election Day, with specific requirements for absentee voting, Virginia Democrats expanded options and access three years ago during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many Virginian Republicans in the General Assembly have voted against or opposed the expansions until recently.

In July, Youngkin, the Republican Party of Virginia and Spirit of Virginia launched Secure Your Vote Virginia to drive up early and absentee voting.

After years of word-of-mouth promotion to vote early or sign up to permanently receive an absentee ballot, Virginia Democrats also rolled out a formal campaign in July called Project Majority.

The moves in both parties underscore the stakes in this year’s elections, in which all 140 General Assembly seats are up for grabs. A handful of competitive seats offer each party a chance to claim a majority. (Republicans currently control the House of Delegates while Democrats control the Senate).

Though Republicans have not always been warm to the idea of early or absentee voting, party officials in Virginia are on board now. Youngkin has also touted Secure Your Vote Virginia on national media like Fox News.

“We can’t be upset if we’re sitting on the bench, not playing the game,” Rexrode told The Times-Dispatch recently. “The Democrats are running up and down the court, making easy layups, because we don’t want to play by those rules and then we get mad when we’re down going into the final minute of the game.”