Watchdog: Data error linked to voter-roll org caused 31k foreigners in CO to get registration cards

The voter-roll organization is used by 33 states and Washington, D.C.

Updated: January 5, 2023 - 5:06pm

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A watchdog group says that a data error causing roughly 31,000 non-citizens living in Colorado to receive voter-registration invitations is a result of a requirement by a voter-roll nonprofit organization to reach out to unregistered voters.

The Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which helps states clean up voter rolls and register voters, is linked to the Colorado Secretary of State's Office mailing voter registration instructions to roughly 31,000 non-citizens living in the state in October.

A month before the November general election, the Colorado Secretary of State's Office sent registration postcards to 31,093 people who had non-citizen state driver's licenses.

According to a report released on Thursday by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), a conservative election law nonprofit, following the mailings, "county election clerks were briefed about a 'data analytic error'" by the Secretary of State's Office. The error put foreign nationals "living in Colorado on the state’s mailing list with voter registration information."

PILF explained in its report that ERIC, which 33 states and Washington, D.C., are part of in order to register voters and clean voter rolls, has a process for Eligible But Unregistered (EBU) voters where licensed drivers who are not registered to vote are sent at least one set of postcards per election cycle. States that are members of ERIC must "find eligible citizens who are not registered to vote and to encourage them to register to vote."

The legal nonprofit noted that the Colorado secretary of state previously explained how there were "procedures in place to prevent mail from being sent to ineligible recipients," but that last year, "those procedures either were no longer in place, or, failed entirely."

Election officials in Moffat County asked the Secretary of State's Office to provide more information regarding the 54 foreign nationals in the county who received the voter registration postcards, PILF reported.

According to public records obtained by PILF, Deputy Secretary of State Christopher Beall "cited 'potential legal issues' to justify denying county election officials complete information," per PILF's report.

PILF President J. Christian Adams said in a statement, "Colorado shouldn't be sending foreign nationals voter registration information. When they do, the public should be able to see all of the records so we can hold election officials accountable. Transparency in elections is essential. This circus right before a federal election shouldn't happen. Knowing who is to blame and what went wrong is essential to prevent a repeat."

The Colorado Secretary of State's Office and ERIC didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

ERIC's founder is David Becker, who also founded the Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR), which claims, "The 2020 general election was the most secure in American history" and received nearly $70 million from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg's Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.