Select Page

Original Article Here: Voter Reference Foundation opposes push in Virginia legislature to re-enroll in ERIC voter monitoring system | Old Dominion News

Voter Reference Foundation opposes push in Virginia legislature to re-enroll in ERIC voter monitoring system

The Voter Reference Foundation (VRF) has expressed opposition to recent legislation in the Virginia General Assembly, which proposes that Virginia rejoin the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). The VRF argues against ERIC, citing concerns over what it refers to as “outsourcing” of voter list maintenance. The foundation believes that for Virginia to reenter ERIC would significantly undermine election integrity.

On January 10, 2024, HB1177 was introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates. This bill, sponsored by Delegates Mark Sickles, Nadarius Clark, Joshua Cole, Josh Thomas, Rodney Willett, Betsy Carr, Debra Gardner, Phil Hernandez, Alfonso Lopez and Briana Sewell – all Democrats – calls for Virginia’s re-enrollment in ERIC. On the same day, a companion bill SB606 was introduced in the Virginia State Senate by Democratic Senators Saddam Azlan Salim and Schuyler VanValkenburg.

As reported by the Associated Press, Virginia had withdrawn from ERIC the previous year. Susan Beals, the Virginia Elections Commissioner stated in her letter announcing the withdrawal from ERIC that “ERIC’s mandate has expanded beyond that of its initial intent — to improve the accuracy of voter rolls” and highlighted “increasing concerns regarding stewardship, maintenance, privacy and confidentiality” of voter information. Other states that have also withdrawn from ERIC include Florida, Iowa and Ohio.

Beals’ apprehensions were reiterated by Gina Swoboda, VRF Executive Director in a recent press release. Swoboda said: “It has been two decades since Congress passed HAVA and included provisions that funded a statewide voter registration database to be implemented in every state in order to ensure proper voter list maintenance was being performed and voter rolls were kept up to date. Outsourcing the core duties of validating voter eligibility to a third party weakens the integrity of the process. Election administrators should be acquiring the needed data and performing these duties themselves.”

According to InfluenceWatch, ERIC was established by Pew Charitable Trusts in 2012, a year after receiving $725,000 in grants from George Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society. The grants were provided “‘to support the Pew Center on the States’ voter registration modernization initiative” and “expand [its] scope and scale.'” David Becker, former director of “the left of center” People for the American Way, spearheaded the development of ERIC.

As stated on its website, VRF is a project of Restoration Action, a 501(c)(4) organization founded by entrepreneur Doug Truax. The foundation works towards promoting greater voter participation across all fifty states.