Report Critical of Group Managing Voter Rolls in 33 States

Personal information of 56 million voters shared
By Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje
Reporter
Beth Brelje is a national, investigative journalist covering politics, wrongdoing, and the stories of everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances. Send her your story ideas: Beth.brelje@epochtimes.us
August 21, 2022 Updated: August 23, 2022

Your voter registration shouldn’t be used by another person to cast a ballot.

When someone moves or dies, their name should be removed from the registered voters’ roll so it can’t be used to vote. The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 requires states to make a reasonable effort to remove ineligible people from voter rolls.

It’s usually handled at the county or state level, but today, 33 states and the District of Columbia, are outsourcing parts of this task to the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

According to a report by Verity Vote, ERIC, which claims that it’s nonpartisan, is actually connected to left-leaning backers and engages in a host of troubling practices that could sway elections across the nation.

Verity Vote is a group of citizen volunteers with professional data research and investigation backgrounds who examine election integrity throughout the country.

New Jersey and Massachusetts joined ERIC in August. The other ERIC member states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, plus Washington, D.C.

In a July 13 letter, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin gave notice that the state was officially dropping its ERIC membership. This followed a January statement in which Ardoin announced that Louisiana was suspending participation in the voter registration agreement “effective immediately,” citing concerns about questionable funding sources and the possibility of partisan actors having access to ERIC data for political purposes, potentially undermining voter confidence.

The Epoch Times has reached out to ERIC and a connected organization, the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), for comment. Neither of the nonprofit organizations responded.

Partisan Leanings

David Becker is CEIR’s director and founder. He also founded and is still a board member of ERIC. Becker didn’t respond to a request for comment.

According to its website, “CEIR’s mission is to restore trust in the American election system and promote election procedures that encourage participation and ensure election integrity and security.”

But CEIR leans to the left with its assertion dismissing the election integrity concerns of many Republicans over the 2020 election, saying: “The 2020 general election was the most secure in American history.”

It calls claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent “The Big Lie,” and the CEIR website states that the majority of the GOP and Trump supporters see conspiracies—some of which U.S. media outlets had previously raised concerns about—assume the worst about election integrity, and are pushing harmful, unnecessary new election laws.

Before forming ERIC and CEIR, Becker was a senior staff attorney at the left-leaning People for the American Way and director of election initiatives at Pew Charitable Trusts, according to Influence Watch.

In 2020, CEIR received nearly $70 million from the left-leaning Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and distributed $64 million in grants to fund “urgent voter education assistance” in 23 different states, with the largest amounts going to Pennsylvania ($13.2 million) and Michigan ($11.9 million).

On its tax-exempt 990 form, ERIC describes itself as working to improve the accuracy of U.S. voter rolls by providing member states with information on voter registration records that are inaccurate because of voters moving or dying. ERIC provides lists of possible ineligible voters, then states may contact them by mail to verify the information, then adjust the voter rolls.

Verity Vote found that states are slightly better at this than ERIC. While non-ERIC states removed an average of 2.3 percent from voter rolls, ERIC states removed an average of 1.9 percent.

Using the data that states provide, ERIC also runs a get-out-the-vote operation, giving lists of eligible but unregistered (EBU) residents to states a minimum of every 425 days. As per the ERIC agreement, states must contact every person on the list and inform them how to register to vote.

This results in a significant swelling of voter rolls. The report shows EBU additions consistently exceed suggested removals—by 10 times.

Sharing Private information

Member states give ERIC more than voter registration records. By agreement, they also hand over all records of individuals who went to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and other places where people are given a chance to register to vote.

In Pennsylvania, that includes state offices that provide public assistance or services to people with disabilities, armed forces recruitment centers, area agencies on aging, county mental health/mental retardation offices, centers for independent living, and the county clerk of court. It’s similar in other states.

In the right hands, personal information gleaned from these agencies could predict which political party a person may belong to.

Since voter registration is offered in these places, all personal information is shared with ERIC, even if the individual didn’t register to vote, Verity Vote found.

“This appears to violate federal law,” the report reads. “The NVRA prohibits states from sharing any records that relate to a declination to register to vote, or to the identity of a voter registration agency through which any particular voter is registered.”

ERIC’s website states that it has handled 56 million voters.

Although ERIC is required to protect personally identifiable information, the report documents how ERIC shares the data with CEIR.

“CEIR is creating the lists of voters who should be targeted for voter registration efforts and laundering the lists back through ERIC for distribution to the states,” the report reads.

In September 2021, Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers investigating the 2020 election subpoenaed the Department of State, requesting detailed voter lists including name, date of birth, driver’s license number, last four digits of Social Security number, address, and, date of last voting activity.

The Democratic governor, state lawmakers, and secretary of state went to court to block access, citing the protection of voters’ personal information.

In court papers, the Department of State stated that it couldn’t provide the information to investigators because “bad actors who gain access to this information would have all the data they need to control the voters’ registrations, and even their votes.”

Verity Vote noted in its report that the Department of State “was comfortable sharing data about voters and citizens who have chosen not to register to vote with Zuckerberg funded CEIR but went to court to keep that data from the Pennsylvania Senate.”

Targeted Communication

Imagine the power to text targeted voters on election day. CEIR is launching a free service for election officials called REVERE, aimed at combating disinformation in real time, according to the report.

It’s unclear who gets to define what constitutes disinformation.

In a communication from Becker to an official in Georgia, Becker describes REVERE’s power.

“REVERE will enable states to draw on phone numbers and email addresses contained in the voter file, and send texts, emails, and even voicemails to any set of voters (a particular precinct or county, older voters, etc.) rapidly. This will allow states to proactively communicate with voters about how to vote effectively (deadlines, early voting, etc.), send links to official websites (drop box and early voting locations), and rapidly respond to disinformation,” he wrote.

In its report, Verity Vote asks if it’s proper to entangle the private motivations of CEIR and ERIC with the governmental role to execute elections, placing the power to judge what’s disinformation—and whom to distribute it to—in the hands of this public/private partnership.

Beth Brelje
Reporter
Beth Brelje is a national, investigative journalist covering politics, wrongdoing, and the stories of everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances. Send her your story ideas: Beth.brelje@epochtimes.us