Exclusive — Virginia Leaves Voting Non-Profit over Group’s Ties to ‘Zuckerbucks’

Mark Zuckerberg speaks to Congress
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Virginia is withdrawing its membership from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a non-profit multi-state partnership to keep voter rolls updated, over the organization’s increasingly partisan swing and increased burden on Virginia taxpayers, according to a letter exclusively obtained by Breitbart News.

ERIC purports to be a non-profit organization dedicated to improving U.S. voter rolls and encouraging registrations that more than 30 states have joined.

Virginia was a founding member of ERIC but is now leaving the organization over its elevation of “a partisan non-voting board member.”

Virginia joins Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, and West Virginia as states that have left ERIC in the past six months.

Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Susan J. Beals cited mandatory activities “unrelated to list maintenance” that ERIC requires, forcing Virginia to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, as one of the reasons for its departure.

Virginia’s exit from ERIC also comes after the board rejected a subcommittee’s unanimous recommendations on how to reform the organization.

According to a letter sent to ERIC executive Director Shane Hamlin:

In recent years, ERIC has increasingly engaged in efforts outside of list maintenance and has elevated the voice of a partisan non-voting board member. Virginia participated in efforts to reform ERIC in order to return the focus of the organization back to its goal of improving electoral integrity through list maintenance. When reform efforts failed and several states left the organization, it became clear that Virginia’s return on investment in ERIC was decreasing.

After carefully evaluating Virginia’s relationship with ERIC, I hereby notify you that Virginia is terminating its membership with ERIC for the following reasons:

Mandatory activities required by the membership agreement, such as the Eligible but Unregistered mailing, which are unrelated to list maintenance require the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funds. A review of Virginia’s participation in that mailing also revealed that this requirement involved a third-party group and the sharing of data with that group for research purposes in 2020.

Seven member states have resigned from ERIC, resulting in the announcement that the upcoming year’s budget will require a significant dues increase for remaining members. In addition to an increase in dues, Virginia will see a declining benefit as the state will have access to a reduced amount of states’ data.

In particular, ERIC’s close association and data-sharing partnership with David Becker’s Center for Election Innovation Research (CEIR) is a driving force in the state’s departure from the organization, a source told Breitbart News.

CEIR was one of two non-profit organizations that received nearly $420 million in “Zuckerbucks” from Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg during the 2020 election cycle.

ERIC helps Virginia reach out to “Eligible, but Unregistered Voters,” by comparing the DMV’s list of eligible voters with Virginia’s list of registered voters. Typically, Virginia finds about 200,000 eligible but unregistered voters to send voter registration mailers, the source told Breitbart News.

However, once ERIC partnered with CEIR, they sent voter registration mailers out to more than one million individuals, including a voter who had been deceased since 2016, according to emails reviewed by Breitbart News.

A source told Breitbart that the partnership between ERIC and Becker’s CEIR “was to do research on how to get the highest return possible on people receiving these mailers so that they would register to vote.”

“But by giving him Virginians’ data, really without their permission. It’s not clear what he may or may not have done with that data after that,” the source added.

The source continued:

As part of that, the mailing, like I said, which typically was around 200,000 people who would receive this every other year. They decided to go back into a much larger mailing, and instead, they mail to about a million people in 2020 to try to really bump up the number of people who are registered to vote. In the course of that, anytime you do anything to a million people, you’re gonna have some data issues. They managed to send voter registration materials to a deceased voter.

Virginia’s departure from ERIC comes two months after former President Donald Trump called on Republican-led states to “immediately pull out of ERIC, the terrible Voter Registration System that ‘pumps the rolls’ for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up.”

However, Virginia is working with other states to form a “new partnership from state to state with secure infrastructure to share data” as a way to “get away from this non-profit model kind of holding all the data, and do it on a state to state basis,” a source told Breitbart News.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) told Breitbart News the move to leave ERIC was “necessary.”

“Virginia withdrew from ERIC because Virginians’ data was shared with an ERIC affiliated research organization and Virginia is unable to reform ERIC and it’s highly politicized use of data,” Macaulay Porter said. “As stewards of Virginia taxpayer dollars, it was also necessary to remove the commonwealth from ERIC’s significantly increasing costs.”

Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at jdixonhamilton@breitbart.com or follow him on Twitter.


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