by Louis Avallone and Patrice Johnson
April 18, 2022
State officials are responsible for the even-handed administration of elections. State sponsored canvassing for removal of ineligible registrants or addition of new registrants must be done without bias or preference. For these reasons, clerks are constrained to administering any get-out-the-vote (GOTV) programs uniformly across their cities and towns.
Plus, the numbers of new registrants cannot determine a clerk’s compensation. To pay government officials by the head would make them, essentially, employees of private interests.
It will be interesting to learn if FOIAed information shows that so-called grant money was contingent on registration quotas, or if registration efforts were targeted and not uniform—both of which would appear to violate statutes and clearly undermine the integrity of our state’s elections.
Michigan’s acceptance of Zuckerbucks runs hand-in-hand with its unlawful participation in ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center.
Private and political organizations are allowed to target partisan groups, but not the state. We all brace ourselves each election cycle for the blat of candidates and parties on our phones, texts, televisions, and computer screens. Candidates and citizen activists knock on doors and organize rallies. Fliers appear in our mailboxes. These efforts all to gin up support and motivate voters to go to the polls. Getting out the vote is a team sport of the citizenry. May the best candidate win.
But when the government tampers with the process, when it affects who registers and votes, it’s like having biased referees control the field. Refs are supposed to be unbiased, to call the game fairly. To allow Zuckerbucks to flood our elections agencies in 80 to 90% Democrat areas was wrong. It violated the law and fundamental ethics. It rigged the game.
For the same reasons, it is wrong and unlawful for ERIC to require the secretary of state to recruit new voter registrants OFF THE LIST ERIC PROVIDES.
Unlawfulness of ERIC-initiated, targeted canvassing.
Private monies influencing government actions leads to corruption, and any regime that forcibly suppresses the opposition is flat-out fascist. Ask any Russian or Iranian refugee how much stock they place in government officials who come out after an election and declare it the fairest and most secure ever. Communist China nipped the problem in the bud when it decided not to bother with conducting elections.
Unlike Zuckerbucks, however, ERIC ratchets the potential corruption to a higher, more nefarious, level. Instead of relying on private Zucker-monies, leftist ERIC draws its lifeblood from taxpayer dollars. It requires each member state to contact and register prospective voters at taxpayer expense, and then the center graciously provides the list of names for the clerk or SOS to contact.
ERIC fails to identify how it determines which ‘potential and eligible’ residents to contact, and it keeps its precious algorithms close to the vest (available only perhaps by court order). But this mysterious list clearly does not extend to all unregistered residents in the state. The state could easily determine that list internally, especially considering that the SOS administers not just the voter rolls but also the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Michigan’s Office of the Auditor General found ‘reportable conditions’ in the Board of Election performance in its March 2022 report, stating, "The BOE DID NOT perform periodic reconciliation between the driver’s license file and QVF. We identified discrepancies in addresses and death status that, if identified and corrected as candidates and parties, could help decrease the risk of ineligible electors voting in Michigan.” And Finding #2, “Improved EPB [Electronic Poll Book] security configuration controls are needed to ensure appropriate access to protect elector information.”
Lady Justice is supposed to be blind. MCL 168.509dd requires, “A clerk who conducts a program to register voters or to remove names under this section shall administer the program in a uniform manner to the entire city or township.” Does participation in ERIC not run afoul of this statute?
Secretary Benson argued that she had the right, as the chief election official, to perform duties nearly explicitly reserved for clerks when she mailed 7.7 million unsolicited absentee ballot applications to statewide voter lists.
When she is acting in the capacity of a clerk, should Benson not also be constrained by same statutes that constrain a clerk from performing biased actions?
Is the secretary of state not constrained by the same rules when directly participating in the affairs of a particular jurisdiction, let alone across the entire state?
Government for hire. Additionally, MCL 168.932c prohibits compensation to another based on “the total number of individuals a person registers to vote.” ERIC membership requires that member states initiate contact with the list of targeted prospective unregistered voters, or such member states will be denied the so-called benefits of membership. Is this threat of expulsion not effectively 'compensation (or lack of punishment) based on numbers of people contacted for the purpose of being registered?'
It's important to note that Zuckerbucks were distributed with the same effect on the actions of clerks, so the same statute violations may apply to Zuckerbucks as to ERIC. A less trusting soul might suggest that the court of public disgust and multi-state legislation banning Zuckerbucks account for its recent announcement that it is slated to reemerge like Lazarus under the name of the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. Also, removed ERIC members are unable to recover their membership dues, which range from $25,000 to millions of dollars per year.
ERIC bylaws, Exhibit A 5(a), page 16, state:
“...When the Member receives ERIC Data regarding eligible or possibly eligible citizens who are not registered to vote, the Member shall, at a minimum, initiate contact with each and every eligible or possibly eligible citizen and inform them how to register to vote. Each Member shall have until October 1 or fifteen (15) days before the close of registration, whichever is earlier, of the next Federal General Election year to initiate contact with at least 95% of the eligible or potentially eligible citizens on whom data was provided and address validation was performed, as described above. ...”
“...Members that have not complied with this section, or do not provide the written certification, shall be automatically removed from membership. ...”
168.509dd Program to register voters or remove names.
“Sec. 509dd. (1) A clerk may conduct a program to register qualified electors or to remove names of registered voters who are no longer qualified to vote in the city or township from the registration records of that city or township.A clerk who conducts a program to register voters or to remove names under this section shall administer the program in a uniform manner to the entire city or township.The clerk shall use nondiscriminatory procedures that comply with the requirements of the voting rights act of 1965, Public Law 89-110, 79 Stat. 437.
(2) The clerk shall complete any program to remove names conducted under this section 90 days or more before the date of a federal election. The 90-day deadline under this subsection does not apply to the removal of names from the registration records of a city or township under 1 of the following circumstances:
(a) At the request or authorization of a voter.
(b) Upon the death of a voter.
(c) Upon notice that a voter has moved from the city or township and has completed an application at the new address.
(3) Subject to the requirements of this section, a clerk may use 1 or more of the following to conduct a program to register voters or remove names under this section:
(a) A house-to-house canvass.
(b) A general mailing to voters for address verifications.
(c) Participation in the national change of address program established by the postal service.
(d) Other means the clerk considers appropriate.”
168.932c Registering individuals; compensation prohibited; violation as felony; penalty.
“Sec. 932c. (1) A person shall not provide compensation to another person for registering individuals to vote that is based upon any of the following:
(a) The total number of individuals a person registers to vote.
(b) The total number of individuals a person registers to vote in a particular political party.
(2) A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or both.”
--Zuckerberg and Chan donated at least $350 million to the nonprofit Center for Technology and Civic Life ahead of the 2020 election, which was distributed to local election offices. The nonprofit said that this year, it will instead launch a different program dubbed the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence.