If I had to choose the organization that has done the most to threaten the votes of the non-white voter, it wouldn’t be the Ku Klux Klan nor the Proud Boys nor the white supremacists chanting, “Jews Won’t Replace Us!” These are frightening clowns marked by easy-to-spot Day-Glo racism. They’re violent, but not likely to stop many voters.
Rather, for the real purge-meisters, think of the sponsors of PBS’ NewsHour. And, “Doo-de-doo-doo! It’s All Things Considered!”
The Pew Charitable Trust. It’s the Pew Trust that founded ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center, the purge operation that tagged Milwaukee County Supervisor Sequanna Taylor a “mover,” that is, a potential fraudulent voter who must lose her vote.
Look at this nice woman in the photo, “Mrs. Pew.” Actually, her name is Rebecca W. Rimel, President of the Pew Trust. She looks like the kind old lady down the street with too many cats who will look in on yours when you’re on vacation.
Just don’t leave your voter rolls with her. When you come home, you’ll find them bleached white and oddly shrunken.
And let me be utterly clear: I don’t for a minute believe that the Pew Trust is out to wipe away African-American voting rights; just the opposite, they are the quintessential do-gooders. They just don’t do any good.
In fact, they are the mindless purveyors of the most invidious of evils, providing a liberal PBS-y endorsement of vote suppression tropes, in particular, the canard that there are people dangerously registered in two states! A threat to the Republic!
The GOP is thrilled to have liberal Pew on their side. I suspect the Republican Five on the Supreme Court considered it an inside joke that their vicious Husted decision opened by quoting the liberal Pew Trust:
It has been estimated that 24 million voter registrations in the United States—about one in
eight—are either invalid or significantly inaccurate. (Pew Center on the States . . .) And about
2.75 million people are said to be registered to vote in more than one State. Ibid, (Pew).
But when Dorothy chanted in The Wizard of Oz, “LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS, OH MY!” the audience knows the danger is a joke, silly nonsense.
But in a Supreme Court decision, it’s dangerous nonsense. Yes, 2.75 million people are registered twice—but so what? They don’t vote twice. In fact, less than 2.75 individuals on average are caught voting twice in any year, according to Lorraine Minnite, the Rutgers University expert on fraudulent voting.
But hundreds of thousands of voters who land on Pew’s list will lose their right to vote, just to prevent a fraud that doesn’t happen.
And what does Pew recommend a secretary of state do when threatened by millions of voters registered in two states? Arrest double-voting criminals—both of them? No. Pew says that the state should send half a million dollars to Pew, and Pew will provide a list of “movers.”
“Movers,” it turns out, are students, low-income voters and renters, Latinx and Black voters. And, as we’ve found out, most didn’t move.
Pew does not tell Secretaries of State to remove these voters. Rather, Pew just makes up the hit list, tells the states (mostly Republican) to mail out those Jim Crow cards—and lets the states do the dirty work.
Pew’s ERIC hands Ohio, Virginia, and other states the bullets, then turns its back, not looking to see if the bullets are fired.
It’s difficult to find a dissent to the Pew purge. What liberal can object to a program that is promoted by an op-ed in the Washington Post?
But dissent there is. Barbara Arnwine, for decades the head of Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, teaches at both Columbia University and UCLA law schools. Prof. Arnwine is founder of the Transformative Justice Coalition. In 2020, Arnwine told me she’s livid that the Pew Trust’s purge promotion has gone without public criticism:
ERIC should be called ERROR because it’s that erroneous and that full of flaws. ERIC claims to find people who’ve moved. Now, apparently almost half the people on the list are young people. Listen, in Wisconsin in 2018 during the primary election, suddenly 44,000 people found themselves ineligible to vote. They had been purged. Turns out, the administrators of ERIC admitted an error in their own system that misidentified 44,000 people.
When a purge pirate is caught wrongly removing voters, they admit to a small “mistake”—though 44,000 was twice Trump’s victory margin.
No newspaper dared challenge Pew nor bother to ask for the ERIC list of the condemned—until I got suspicious. I asked them for their lists beginning in 2014 and got turned down—because Pew claims it is above the federal law requiring transparency in the removal of voters.
And sending gobs of cash to America’s liberal media keeps hands open and mouths shut.
But then the Wisconsin Elections Board made the list public—and we discovered that the 44,000 wrongly identified were, in fact, just a fourth of the wrongly tagged.
How could this be? Unlike the Kemp/Husted purge lists, Pew’s list are “evidence-based” and “nonpartisan.”
How do I know? They say so right on their web site:
The Pew Charitable Trusts uses evidence-based, nonpartisan analysis to solve today’s challenges
As a good citizen always in favor of solving today’s challenges, and as a reporter for Rolling Stone, I decided to call ERIC himself, that is, the chief of Pew’s ERIC voter purge program, David Becker, to ask him about his “evidence.”
Our address hygiene experts used over two hundred databases to verify one James Brown from another. ERIC uses three to eight. No social security numbers (though states generally list the last four digits).
Has Pew ever done a review of the list by experts? No, that’s “left to the states.” Pew tells the states not to use the raw list to purge voters but Pew does not check if, as in Wisconsin, the ERIC “movers” list is used for a Jim Crow operation.
Pew did not set out to become the weapon for ethnic cleansing. Just the opposite: it was meant to find voters who moved from one state or county to another. Its 25 member states are supposed to use the list to send moved voters cards to encourage them to register. Does Pew make sure the cards are sent to add registrations? Nope. Does Pew take action if a state, as most do, uses it to wipe away registrations? Nope. Pew simply turned over the operation to the control of the partisan hacks who use it to purge voters.
Does Becker know whom his list targets? “No question,” he told me, proudly, “the most highly mobile—the poor, Black, the young . . .”
But Pew’s intentions are good: to get those poor Black young folk back on the voter rolls. The fact that it does the opposite, targeting the Sequanna Taylors for elimination of their rights, well, that’s none of Pew’s business. That’s up to the states. Pew, Pontius Pilate style, washes its hands of the electronic lynchings.
And what exactly is the danger of someone who moved out of Ohio to California remaining on the rolls until the change-of-address form hits from the Post Office? America simply is not awash in illegal double voters. And Becker admitted as much to me:
99.999% of those people were not thinking of voting twice in two states.
But the states from Virginia to Ohio are removing hundreds of thousands of voters on the grounds they are preventing this crime by 0.001%. (Though even that teensy sum is way exaggerated.)
Lori Shellenberger of the ACLU blocked ERIC in California because, as she told me, it’s just nuts to remove hundreds of thousands of voters from the rolls to prevent a crime, double voting, that is not committed—knowing that even a small percentage of false positives will result in thousands, even tens of thousands, losing their voting rights.
But it’s all OK, because Pew’s targets can easily get their votes back. They only have to return that postcard. Since only 4% return those cards, Pew must have it 96% correct.
Is it Pew’s fault if no one returns the cards?
After all, the card was designed by an expert.
Click your slipper heels together, Dorothy, we’re going back to Kansas . . .