As red states continue to leave the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), an interstate voter roll maintenance organization with ties to Democratic activists, corporate media outlets are working overtime to label such states conspiracy theorists. Yet their reporting fails to mention ERIC’s ties to left-wing get-out-the-vote operations.
But new details surrounding ERIC’s origins, unveiled by Restoration of America and good government group VerityVote, show there’s no denying ERIC was developed to help leftists win elections.
As previously reported by The Federalist, ERIC is a voter list maintenance organization that ostensibly exists to clean state voter rolls. But ERIC does more to inflate state voter rolls than clean them, as it requires member states to send voter registration mailers to eligible but unregistered residents. ERIC creates these lists of eligible but unregistered residents using state DMV and social services data with the Center for Election Innovation and Research, one of two groups that funneled $419 million in grant funds from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to government election offices during the 2020 election. Such funds went overwhelmingly to the blue areas of swing states, funding Democratic GOTV efforts and tipping the election in then-candidate Joe Biden’s favor. ERIC officials claim, however, that the organization itself is strictly “bipartisan,” yet ERIC’s partisan beginnings suggest otherwise.
Voter Registration Drives Are Key To Leftist Success
Way back in 2005, left-wing billionaire George Soros helped found Catalist, a data management firm that runs a national voter database for Democrats and leftist campaigns. After Obama’s landslide victory in 2008, a post-election report by Catalist analyzed Democrats’ winning strategy. It found that in certain swing states “the number of votes cast by new voters who were registered by progressives exceeded the [Obama’s] margin of victory in that state … By implication, this suggests that the additional voters generated through progressive voter registration activities may have been essential to an Obama victory in that state.”
Catalist took its observation of successful voter registration tactics and included them in its 2009 mission statement, which was to “build, operate and expand a robust, enhanced national voting-age person database that progressive organizations can use … to produce measurable increases in participation.” In other words, Catalist realized identifying and registering blocs of eligible (and likely Democratic) residents to vote is vital to leftists’ political success. The only problem, according to another report funded by Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society, is that local, grass-roots-based voter registration drives are a “costly and inefficient model.” There needed to be some sort of voter database that tracked unregistered citizens as well, funded by taxpayer dollars.
Enter Soros’ Foundation, which in 2010 awarded grant money to leftist nonprofits to make voter registration modernization the centerpiece of leftist advocacy efforts, especially in light of the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision, which allowed corporate funding of political campaigns.
One of the grantees, the left-wing Brennan Center, issued a report detailing what Democrats must do to save the leftist agenda and counter corporate political spending. One of their solutions was to bring “millions of new voters onto the rolls through a modernized registration system — starting in 2010” where “states would automatically and permanently register all eligible citizens.” In this system, “registration would be permanent — voters would not fall off the rolls simply by moving … Unaccountable ‘backroom’ purges of voter lists would be curbed.”
Another grantee to the program was the Pew Center on the States (a project of the left-wing charity op Pew Charitable Trusts). It also issued a 2010 report championing a modern voter registration system, which detailed an early blueprint for ERIC.
“The private sector consistently draws upon a much wider array of data sources to verify an individual’s information than is currently used by election offices,” the report reads. “Bringing this same approach to voter rolls — specifically, comparing registration records against data from multiple sources and multiple states — would enable election officials to ensure that their files reflect the most up-to-date and accurate information on eligible voters in their jurisdiction.”
The report goes on to propose a “data exchange” between member states through a “data center” that would “standardize, collate, and match” data such as current voter lists, motor vehicle data, U.S. Postal Service National Change of Address information, Social Security death index data, felon data, state tax data, and student university data.
This is exactly what ERIC does, as it requires states to submit all active and inactive voter files and DMV data to ERIC’s data center every 60 days — data that can be used to identify and register Democratic-leaning residents to vote.
It’s no wonder then that ERIC’s founder, left-wing activist David Becker, was working as director of election initiatives at Pew Charitable Trusts at the time of these reports. Becker was most likely privy to these modernized registration discussions, especially as Soros’ Foundation gave $725,000 “to support the Pew Center on the States’ voter registration modernization initiative” in 2011.
Unregistered Citizens Equal The New American Majority
If ERIC were truly a voter list maintenance organization, then member states would be required to clean their voter rolls. Except it’s not required as a condition of membership. What is required, however, is sending voter registration mailers to eligible residents that ERIC hand-selects. As the left-wing nonprofit and ERIC ally, The Advancement Project notes
ERIC states are also required to contact eligible, but unregistered people and “educate them on the most efficient means to register to vote.” Registering the unregistered is mandatory. Indeed, ERIC states are required to initiate contact with at least 95 percent of people identified by ERIC who are eligible or potentially eligible to vote. Failure to comply results in automatic removal of the state from ERIC membership.
And which “eligible but unregistered” residents is ERIC wanting states to reach out to? What Democrats coin the “New American Majority,” or young people, minorities, single women, and LGBT individuals. As Becker noted in a 2011 conference hosted by Pew aimed at convincing California lawmakers to join ERIC, “voter rolls nationwide are disproportionately white, disproportionately wealthy and disproportionately old … thus, the people who are unregistered … are disproportionately people of color, disproportionately young, and disproportionately economically disadvantaged.”
By targeting these specific demographics, Becker ensures leftists make significant inroads within the electorate, as most of these voters lean heavily Democratic. Not surprisingly, a 2011 leaked memo from the Open Society Foundation’s Democracy and Power Fund calls for expanding voter engagement among “people of color, immigrant, and youth communities.”
Building on our record of success in helping progressive organizations grow and connect, our current investment strategy sustains support to critical national infrastructure and deepens our reach into the states. At a time when nearly every democratic institution of our country and collective values as a nation are under attack, the need for a more powerful and cohesive progressive community has never been greater. When these efforts to strengthen and sustain state-level grassroots organizing and elevate the leadership and capacity of communities in the New American Majority-particularly people of color, LGBT individuals, women, and young people, are well-resourced and coordinated, year-in and year-out, progressives win.
ERIC Is A Gift To Leftist Political Operatives
Following the success of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, leftists learned that targeted voter registration efforts are the key to winning elections. As such, a national database composed of registered and unregistered residents is essential for activists to identify likely-Democratic voters and harvest their ballots. The problem at the time, however, was no such national database existed, and it would be a bear to fund. But thanks to the Soros-funded Pew Center on the States, ERIC was formed under the guise of helping states clean their voter rolls.
As a result, leftist political operatives were given a treasure trove of citizen data funded by American taxpayers themselves. As Hayden Ludwig put it for Restoration of America, “In a single stroke, ERIC had succeeded in building the most comprehensive, widespread, and valuable voter file the country had ever seen — updated practically in real-time. With it, a campaign could become unbeatable.”
Thanks to its membership requirement that states must reach out to unregistered but eligible voters (a list ERIC provides), ERIC upholds the mission for which it was founded: adding Democratic Party-leaning demographics, or the “New American Majority” to state voter rolls across the country.
And as a 2019 memo from Silicon Valley-based Super Pac Mind The Gap notes of these voters, “Historical data suggest that 40-50% of these new voters will go on to vote in the 2022 elections without any additional campaign or [get-out-the-vote] encouragement.” Meaning once leftists target who to register, they are ensuring such voters will remain active in future elections for years to come.
Thankfully, multiple red states are waking up to this clear Democratic-vote-harvesting scheme. In March alone, Florida, Missouri, West Virginia, Iowa, and Ohio withdrew from ERIC over its ties to the left and data sharing concerns.
“There is no defensible justification to allow any opportunity for partisanship in voter registration and list maintenance, much less in the administration of our nation’s elections,” West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said in a press release.