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Why SC needs to replace ERIC

The following blog is by Laurie Zapp,  a constituent and registered voter in Bluffton, South Carolina. She has spent significant time researching the active registered deceased list in our state.

I have read some of the filed election bills that are currently up for consideration in the State House and Senate and would like to offer some concerns and recommendations based on my experience with leading canvass efforts in the state.

H 4620/ S 898

I was very excited to see a bill that was addressing an elector’s domicile. I feel that the bill is very clear in how it defines domicile as a person’s residence. It defines domicile as follows (from the text of the bill):

 “A person’s residence is his domicile. ‘Domicile’ means a person’s fixed home where he has an intention of returning when he is absent. A person has only one domicile.”

What we discovered during our time canvassing is how the law is being interpreted not only by electors, but also by employees at various county boards of elections. ​​For example, in Beaufort County, we discovered electors registered at rented spaces: such as a chiropractic office, mattress store, furniture store, and the Hilton Head Library. In Horry County, we found electors registered at Hungry Howies, a tailoring shop, a pub, Dominos Pizza, and Dunkin Donuts, to name a few. One man in Beaufort stated that the County Board of Elections gave him permission to use a rented space for his business as his registered voting address.

In section (D) 1-11 of the current law, and in S 898 of the proposed bill, I feel that loopholes remain. Unfortunately, we do not have county board of election employees or state employees who are diligently checking new voter registrations to confirm a new elector is providing an address that is consistent with a domicile. Amending the law to not fully address the bigger problem at hand will allow electors to continue to use commercial addresses as their domicile. It is recommended that we put in place procedures to ensure that a domicile is in fact a legitimate primary residence.

S 895

The first feature that I noticed about this bill is the responsibilities given to the South Carolina Election Commission. There is language in this bill giving roles and responsibilities to the SEC and using words such as “must do” or “shall.” What is missing is any accountability if the SEC Director fails to perform the duties of his job. Many voters are frustrated that the responsibility of our election system is under the authority of the South Carolina Election Commission, which is appointed by the Governor. We know that under their leadership, our voter logs are full of errors with electors who are deceased, electors who no longer live at the address they are registered at, and electors who are registered at addresses that are not a domicile. There needs to be new accountability measures to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations. 

The second concern I have about this bill is part (C) under Section 3. This part of the bill gives the power of the South Carolina Election Commission (SEC) the authority to enter into agreements with organizations in an effort to maintain an accurate database of our registered voters. One such organization that gives the SEC permission to use is an organization called Election Registration Information Center ( ERIC). 

I conducted extensive research into ERIC including their history, an examination of financial documents, and correspondence between employees of the SEC and ERIC, which I obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. My findings reveal serious concerns. There have also been recent articles in The Gateway Pundit that raised alarms – even resulting in Louisiana canceling their membership with ERIC.

Below I have provided you with a summary of the information, which led me and my group to realize that South Carolina needs to end its membership with ERIC.

History of ERIC

In 2012, ERIC was founded by three men; John Lindback, Jeff Jones, and David Becker. One must research each of these men to establish if ERIC is truly a nonpartisan organization. Each one of these men has connections to Democratic elected officials and to the Pew Charitable Funds. I will not go into depth on each of these men, but I will give a brief overview of some of the most partisan aspects I have found.

John Lindback– He was the senior officer for Elections Initiatives at the Pew Charitable Trusts, and chief of staff for former Alaska Lieutenant Governor Fran Ulmer (D). He is also listed as a leader of an organization called Center For Secure and Modern Elections (CSME). Listed as one of the roles of CSME which is funded by left of center donors is to “engage in advocacy and lobbying for “automatic voter registration” (AVR) laws that would automatically register eligible individuals to vote when they acquire or renew a driver’s license, apply for social services, or otherwise interact with a state government agency.” Also important to note, CSME lobbied against legislation in Texas that was to reduce the occurrences of voter fraud.

Jeff Jones– Like John above, Jeff also has an interest in supporting Democrat candidates. According to the Federal Election Commission website, Jeff has donated to Democrat candidates like Harry Reid, Bernie Sanders, and Obama for America, to name a few. Jeff also worked with the Pew Charitable Trusts to modernize voter registration in the county. Today he is the CEO of a company called Senzing. 

David Becker– Today David is the Executive Director and Founder of the Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR). Coincidentally, CEIR gave over a million dollars in grant money to South Carolina in 2020 to be used for election purposes. This is in addition to the over 5 million dollars that rolled into South Carolina via the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL).

David worked at one time for the Department of Justice as a trial attorney and later in his career at the Pew Charitable Trusts as director of the elections program. Of the three men listed above, I am personally troubled by Mr. Becker’s ability to be nonpartisan the most due to the following article. https://legalnewsline.com/stories/555822683-mark-zuckerberg

The article above not only discusses how Becker talks about Republicans and the fact that there was a complaint filed against him but as the article goes on, the following quote is shared. “To be honest, I don’t use LinkedIn very much and haven’t updated my profile in years, and there’s probably a lot missing from it,” Becker told Legal Newline. “For instance, I also didn’t list the fact that since February my organization and I have a contract and work closely with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger,….” 

Personally, if I lived in Georgia I would be interested in using the Freedom of Information Act to uncover the “contract and close work he and the Secretary of State” were conducting. 

The three men mentioned above all had a part in developing the organization ERIC. Today, Lindberg and Becker are considered non-voting board members, and Jones is listed as being on the privacy and technology advisory board.

What is ERIC? 

Eric’s mission per their website is “assisting states to improve the accuracy of America’s voter rolls and increase access to voter registration for all eligible citizens.” On the surface when one sees that an organization has the mission to improve the accuracy of the voter rolls, it sounds like a win! One must dig and look further to assess if what is stated in their mission is really being followed through with, and are their other agendas at play? 

ERIC Requirements of Members

Once a member state signs on and agrees to be a member of ERIC, the first thing the state must do is register new voters. The state is sent a list that is referred to as EBU voters. EBU refers to eligible but unregistered voters. ERIC provides the member state with a list of the EBU voters. The state can then apply for a grant from Pew Charitable Trusts to help with the cost of mailing each EBU a postcard that is intended to encourage the EBU to register to vote. Part of the agreement with ERIC also states that the member state must continue to send postcards to EBU voters every two years and coincidentally it is in even number of years that they must do this.

In 2018, South Carolina became a member of ERIC. South Carolina took the grant money offered from the Pew in order to send out postcards to register new voters. South Carolina received $177,000. 

As far as “improving the accuracy of America’s voter rolls”, the states that join and are members of ERIC also share their state’s data. The states are to share information such as the death of a voter or a voter that moves from one state to another. We also have concerns about our voter’s personal data being shared with an outside organization. (Most likely voters have no idea, and have not been informed, that South Carolina is sharing their personal data with a third-party organization.) 

Partisanship with ERIC?

A few things to know about the Pew Charitable trusts; in 2020 Pew gave 99.5% of their money to Democrat candidates and not even 1% to Republican candidates, Pew gives funding to organizations like Planned Parenthood, and most recently in 2021 the Pew was instrumental in supporting police reform in the state of Washington.

Is ERIC Cleaning Voter Rolls or Strengthening the Democrat Vote?

On June 30, 2021, I testified at the House Legislative Oversight Committee on the number of active registered voters I and volunteers had discovered that remained on our active voter logs. At this point, South Carolina had been a member of ERIC for 3 years. One statistic that was given in testimony by the SEC was that the SEC had received 54,455 names of individuals that were deceased. 45,000 of those 54,455 deceased were provided to the SEC from DHEC, 6,600 of those names came from other sources, and only 2,600 names were from ERIC. We also discovered that there are modules set up that ERIC has to offer, and the SEC has yet to implement them. One of the fundamental requirements to vote is to be a citizen of the United States. Unfortunately, ERIC states that if a state knows that someone is not a citizen, the state is not allowed to document this or share this information electronically. Are they encouraging non citizens to vote?

Recent Reporting By The Gateway Pundit

Last month, The Gateway Pundit published a 3 part series on ERIC. Please see the links below for shocking information about ERIC. If you feel as strongly as I do that we must end our agreement with ERIC and follow in the footsteps of Louisiana (who terminated their agreement with ERIC), I hope you will amend this bill and also request our Governor to terminate our membership with ERIC. 

Gateway Pundit Part 1- https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2022/01/cleaning-voter-rolls-soros-founded-funded-eric-now-used-31-states/

Gateway Pundit Part 2- https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2022/01/eric-investigation-part-2-largest-u-s-counties-removed-zero-two-ineligible-voters-voter-rolls-4-years/

Gateway Pundit Part 3-

For additional ERIC research, please go here- https://www.engagetheright.com/images/pdf/ERIC.pdf

I appreciate you taking the time to work on legislation that will address the weaknesses in our current election processes and laws. Please feel free to reach me with any questions or feedback. My hope is that our General Assembly will pass legislation that ensures election integrity, and will take quick action to separate us from ERIC and other organizations that could be negatively impacting the integrity of our voter rolls.