One of the featured headlines on the Gateway Pundit’s homepage Thursday alleged that President Joe Biden distributed “Free Crack Pipes to Blacks and Minority Communities” to commemorate Black History Month. Fabricating nonsense and spreading clickbait misinformation is what the St. Louis-based website is all about. Informed people know not to give it a second look. But it’s the go-to place for conspiracy nuts intent on detaching themselves from reality. Now the Gateway Pundit’s misinformation is affecting real-life politics in measurable and damaging ways.
St. Louisan Jim Hoft, the Pundit website owner whose misinformation got him banned from Twitter, launched an attack last month on the Electronic Registration Information Center, a 31-state network that sifts through voter-registration information to prevent potential fraud. The center, known as ERIC, identifies and weeds out individuals who might have residences in two states or who work in a different state from where they live to ensure they can’t vote twice in elections. It also helps identify people who have died yet remain on voter-registration lists.
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In other words, the center exists to stop vote fraud before it occurs, which is why Republican-dominated states participate in the data-sharing network along with Democrat states. The non-profit organization was formed in 2012 with assistance from the non-partisan Pew Charitable Trusts.
Because the GOP mantra since 2020 has been that massive voter fraud denied reelection to President Donald Trump, logic would suggest that a national data network dedicated to preventing vote fraud would be embraced as a good thing. But no, says Hoft. It is part of a “seemingly corrupt” leftist plot designed to skew voting results in Democrats’ favor.
Hoft’s sole source is J. Christian Adams, a nationally known vote-fraud alarmist. Trump chose Adams in 2017 to serve on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which disbanded after high-profile investigations were unable to come up with any substantive evidence of vote fraud. Trump was convinced at the time that only massive fraud could explain why he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million ballots.
The Electronic Registration Information Center exists to ensure the integrity of voter registration lists. But conspiracy theorists have now latched onto Hoft’s contention that the center is evil. And because of Hoft’s wild allegations, the state of Louisiana has decided to withdraw from the data-sharing network. Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin justified the move by citing “concerns raised by citizens, government watchdog organizations and media reports.” That is, media reports concocted by the Gateway Pundit, government watchdog agencies that exist in Adams’ imagination, and concerns raised by citizens who believed Adams’ and the Pundit’s nonsense.
That’s the frighteningly dangerous way fiction magically turns into fact in the minds of right-wing conspiracy fanatics and fooled a gullible Louisiana official into undermining the very effort to fight vote fraud that he claims to be championing.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The web headline for this editorial has been modified. The previous headline misportrayed the allegations reported by the Gateway Pundit.