As Republican-led states pull out of a multistate voter roll program in response to Gateway Pundit-pushed conspiracy theories about the organization, a conservative nonprofit was apparently also part of fanning the flames.
Judicial Watch, a far-right legal advocacy group, published a white paper in early March boosting erroneous claims about the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a bipartisan program designed to maintain voter rolls across state lines.
The paper, which the non-profit reupped on their website Friday, sought to legitimize debunked claims made by the far-right website Gateway Pundit last year, which falsely argued that ERIC was founded by “left-leaning attorney David Becker” and funded by George Soros.
Judicial Watch claims that Becker had a “history of left-wing activism and unethical conduct,” and that ERIC “shares the vast amount of sensitive personal data it receives from member states with another liberal non-profit, the Center for Election Innovation and Research,” which they linked to the “Zuckerbucks” controversy, another election-related conspiracy theory.
Becker did help a handful of states launch the non-partisan program with a group called the Pew Charitable Trusts in 2012, but Soros never directly contributed to ERIC. Becker has sat on ERIC’s board as a non-voting ex-officio member since its founding, but on March 14 he announced that he would be vacating the position due to the conspiracy theories about his role that were being pushed by the right-wing media.
The Judicial Watch report was originally published on March 9, three days after Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd (R) announced that his state would be withdrawing from the program alongside Missouri and West Virginia. That afternoon, former president Donald Trump attacked ERIC on Truth Social as well:
“All Republican Governors should immediately pull out of ERIC, the terrible Voter Registration System that ‘pumps the rolls’ for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up,” he wrote. “It’s a fools game for Republicans…”
On March 10, Texas officials also signaled their interest in leaving the program, and they’ve since drawn up legislation to do so. Ohio and Iowa announced their departures on March 17.
ERIC executive director Shane Hamlin posted an open letter on March 2 trying to bat down misinformation about the program, but it didn’t stop what would become a wave of red state officials cutting ties with the program.