Governor Youngkin Invokes Veto, Stops Virginia’s Entry Into Multi-State Vote Compact

Governor Youngkin Invokes Veto, Stops Virginia’s Entry Into Multi-State Vote Compact

On Friday, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed a bill that would have required the state to rejoin a multi-state compact for maintaining voter registration lists.

The bill, which had passed along party lines in the Democratic-controlled state Senate, would have mandated Virginia’s return to the Electronic Registration Information Center, a nonprofit organization that facilitates the sharing of data from motor vehicle agencies and voter registries across multiple member states, according to WRIC-TV.

In May, Virginia made waves by becoming the eighth Republican-led state to withdraw from ERIC due to “increasing concerns regarding stewardship, maintenance, privacy, and confidentiality of voter information” and “controversy surrounding the historical sharing of data with outside organizations leveraged for political purposes,” NPR reported.

According to its website, ERIC is a nonprofit organization that helps member states improve the accuracy of their voter registration rolls. Member states submit voter registration data as well as data from their motor vehicle departments to ERIC.

ERIC is also certified to access official death data from the Social Security Administration, and it subscribes to change of address data from the United States Postal Service.

By utilizing these data sources, ERIC is able to provide reports to member states that identify inaccurate voter records, deceased voters, eligible but unregistered voters, and fraud, according to the website.

But watchdog groups such as Judicial Watch say that ERIC does not actually require member states to remove ineligible voters from voter rolls after being notified about them. States are only required to “initiate contact” with those voters, but not necessarily remove them.

Additionally, while ERIC claims to have identified millions of relocated voters, duplicate registrations, and deceased voters on the rolls, an independent analysis cited by Judicial Watch found that non-ERIC states had a higher rate of actually removing individuals who moved out of their jurisdictions from voter rolls compared to ERIC member states.

“ERIC has been far more successful at identifying unregistered voters than duplicate or invalid registrations. The organization reports identifying more than 60 million unregistered voters since 2012,” the white paper by Judicial Watch alleges.

Judicial Watch also raised concerns about potential partisan bias and conflicts of interest surrounding ERIC’s leadership and origins. The conservative watchdog noted that ERIC was founded by David Becker, a left-leaning attorney, using $157,000 in startup grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts, which has financial ties to liberal billionaire George Soros‘ Open Society Institute.

After founding ERIC, Becker created another election group called the Center for Election Innovation and Research while remaining involved with ERIC as a non-voting board.

In vetoing the bill on Friday that would have required Virginia to rejoin ERIC, Youngkin reiterated these issues, stating that the “financial burden” included membership fees that “have increased more than 115 percent since 2022” as well as other “participation expenses.”

Youngkin argued ERIC’s “mandatory Eligible but Unregistered mailing will cost the Commonwealth hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is superfluous considering Virginia’s … automatic registration policies and same-day registration for voting.”

The governor also said that “Since leaving ERIC, Virginia established data-sharing agreements with numerous states incurring no additional costs” and has “increased its data sources by collaborating with forty-one states to obtain driver’s license surrender data, while ERIC only provides data sharing with twenty-five states,” which would make ERIC redundant for Virginia.

With the 2024 election rapidly approaching, election integrity has never been more crucial.

The financial origins of ERIC make the word “non-partisan” feel disingenuous at best.

Additionally, ERIC’s founder Becker’s dual roles at ERIC and his separate CEIR have raised conflict of interest allegations from those skeptical of the group’s motives.

CEIR received almost $70 million from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to promote “safe and reliable voting” in 2020.

And while ERIC says its mission is to improve voter roll accuracy, its data shows a much higher rate of identifying potential new voter registrants compared to removing ineligible voters from rolls, according to Judicial Watch.

Any one of these pieces of information would have been enough to raise serious doubts about the accuracy of the bipartisan claims made by ERIC, but the combination of all these elements is enough to cast a very gray pall over the organization.

“Better to be despised for too anxious apprehensions than ruined by too confident a security,” British statesman Edmund Burke once stated. Despite the outcry by the media criticizing Republican states for leaving ERIC, after looking at the facts about the organization, governors like Youngkin may have been thinking the same thing.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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