Of all the strange, conspiratorial, and potentially dangerous theories Donald Trump and his allies came up with in the days after the 2020 election, this was the strangest, the most conspiratorial, the most potentially dangerous. Millions of electronic ballots for Trump had been “deleted,” and hundreds of thousands more had been “switched” to Joe Biden, Trump and his cronies in media, political, and legal circles insisted — thanks to software designed at the behest of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez to rig foreign elections. Never mind that Chavez had been dead since 2013. Never mind that even Fox News’ researchers said the claims about Dominion Voting Systems were “100 percent false.”
Fox ultimately paid Dominion $787 million after its hosts ignored the network’s research department and spread lies about the firm. But the consequences his allies have faced for pushing lies about the 2020 election have not diminished the former president’s appetite for conspiracy theories. If anything, they have only stoked it.
Since then, Trump has fixated on new bogeymen. Lately, he has found one in a mundane nonprofit designed to spot the very voter fraud Team Trump professes to hate. Until recently, 33 states and the District of Columbia — a mixture of solidly Republican, Democratic, and battleground states — used data from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) to spot voting irregularities and to identify and reach voters who haven’t yet registered, a group that numbered 4.4 million people in 2022. ERIC has been employed in this way since 2012, without incident or controversy. But in Trump’s imagination, ERIC is the engine for election rigging.
Last March, on his social media platform, Trump fumed that Republican governors should “immediately pull out of ERIC,” and falsely labeled it a “terrible Voter Registration System that ‘pumps the rolls’ for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up.” Over the past year, Trump has remained fixated on ERIC, sources who speak to him say. He’s gone so far as to wonder aloud what can be done in the future to make it “illegal” nationwide — while key allies have begun a largely under-the-radar effort to market a replacement system. One person close to him has dubbed ERIC Trump’s “new Dominion.” [Continue reading…]