Recently, as you may recall, House Democratic Leader Don Scott and Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie Locke held a press conference to discuss Virginia Republicans’ latest attack on voting rights (“Virginia on Thursday became the latest Republican-led state to withdraw from a multistate partnership that until early 2022 was considered a widely trusted, bipartisan effort to share voter information”). Also on this topic, see Glenn Youngkin and His Elections Commissioner Susan Beals “Going Full MAGA,” Pull Virginia Out of Crucial Multistate Voter Information Partnership (“ERIC”), including Del. Marcus Simon’s quote:
“This was to prevent all the things that you Republicans say could happen — people voting across state lines or voting in more than one state,” Simon said. “It’s data driven. And it’s science based. And apparently, we’re leaving, because somebody in the administration wants to align themselves with these MAGA Republicans that believe the election was stolen.”
As the saying goes, “no lies detected” in those comments by Del. Simon. Because that’s exactly what’s going on – Youngkin caving to the far right of his party, the conspiracy theorists and election “Big Lie” aficionados. Scary stuff, and completely unacceptable of course – as has been so much of what Youngkin’s done.
Anyway, the other day on Pod Virginia, they had a fascinating discussion on this situation with former Del. Bob Brink, “former Chairman of Virginia’s State Board of Elections, to discuss the ERIC system– the Electronic Registration Information Center, which allowed neighboring states to share voter registration information with each other and help prevent voter fraud.” Here are a few highlights of Bob Brink’s comments; click here for the entire discussion (or see below).
- ERIC is “one of the most important elements of fair and efficient elections.” “It was set up about 10-15 years ago, with Virginia as one of the founding states under Republican Governor Bob McDonnell.”
- “List maintenance…is an important part of the voter integrity process…The General Assembly requires the Department of Elections to submit annual reports on list maintenance.”
- “The data quality from the ERIC program is significantly better than other interstate exchange programs and any program that the department could operate in-house with existing resources.”
- On the right-wing media campaign against ERIC: “It has been a years-long disinformation campaign…buttressed by Donald Trump, who a couple months ago called ERIC ‘the terrible voter registration system that pumps rolls for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up’. And he demanded that all Republican governors pull out of ERIC…I know that the diminution of ERIC’s effectiveness is dangerous for the integrity of the voter process.”
- “It’s almost as if these people are trying to guarantee that ERIC will fail, to kind of send it into a death spiral…Demanding that states withdraw from it causes serious long-term damage to our elections.”
- According to Brink, ERIC only cost Virginia $37,644 last year. “I think frankly that Gov. Youngkin probably spends more on dry cleaning his vest than $37,000.” And for Virginia to replicate the kind of data sharing in ERIC, if that’s even possible, “it’s going to take an appreciable amount of time.”
- “I cannot see how this data would have been shared without adequate security and privacy considerations being taken into account…The cost boths in time and in resources of pulling out of ERIC are pretty severe…so it is incumbent on [Gov. Youngkin] to do more explaining.”
- “It seems that the action that the governor took to pull us out was pretty precipitous…It looks like they’re making it up as they go along.”
- “In some right-wing circles, this kind of sticks in their craw, the idea of actually doing outreach to encourage people to sign up to vote is something that they found objectionable.”
- “It’s clear that keeping the electorate small and predictable is something that’s pretty much an article of faith in some circles.”
- The long-term impact of pulling out of ERIC on Virginia elections could be serious, as local electoral boards and registrars “rely on the department to maintain a centralized, accurate, complete voter registration list; if that should be diminished, if the quality of that list should be impaired, then we’ve got a real problem statewide.”
- On the current Virginia Commissioner of Elections, Susan Beals, she was “exemplary in running the department in a very professional and non-partisan way, BUT this action on ERIC is a very very troubling sign…There is a danger, given Gov. Youngkin’s predilections for following national right-wing winds…”
- “I’m very concerned about local electoral boards...you may have seen news reports about what’s been going on in Buckingham County…Since this is a PG-rated show, I’ll call it a clown show rather than other things.”
- “I think the overall ERIC story over the past years shows what can happen when you have a drumbeat of misinformation on a susceptible population, which is to say Republicans across the nation. The way that ERIC has been characterized…showed that what you can end up with is a deterioration of a strong and viable elections system. It’s almost as if these people are trying to guarantee that ERIC will fail, to kind of send it into a death spiral…to diminish it…causes serious long-term damage to our elections…There are forces in our politics right now that thrive on chaos, and if you can set up a system where the effectiveness and perception of validity of a system is called into question, then you feed that chaos.”
- “…nothing is more important to us and to our future than the integrity of our elections system.”
Listen to “Bob Brink: How Conspiracy Theories Harmed Virginia’s Election Integrity” on Spreaker.