Minnesota secretary of state speaks at Zuckerberg-funded election summit

At a summit hosted by an organization with ties to both Mark Zuckerberg and billionaire George Soros, Secretary of State Steve Simon spoke about voter rolls and Minnesota's Democracy for the People Act.

Secretary of State Steve Simon discussed elections cybersecurity in 2018. (Facebook/Secretary of State Steve Simon)

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon spoke at the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR) about voter rolls last month.

The organization that hosted the summit has previously come under fire for having ties to both Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and billionaire George Soros.

CEIR was directly funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in 2020, with the foundation awarding them nearly $70 million in grant money.

In May of this year, Simon participated in a panel discussion with other states’ election officials at the CEIR Summit on American Democracy.

According to Simon, “It’s obviously foundational to have clean voter rolls.” He stressed that the accuracy of voter rolls depends on the quality of the data used.

Nobody calls the local elections office when they move addresses to have their name taken off the voter roll, Simon claimed.

“I haven’t done that,” Simon said. “That means there are people who are on the voting rolls in more than one state. It’s nothing nefarious. It’s not a conspiracy theory.”

He said both Trump’s and Biden’s children are on voter rolls in multiple states, and that does not equate to fraud.

He also addressed the automatic voter registration provision that was passed in the Democracy for the People Act. Same-day voter registration will be cut by 80 to 90% because of this, meaning that Minnesota can do filtering, checking, and screening before election day, Simon said.

The Democracy for the People Act was signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz last week, a bill which received no Republican votes in the House or Senate. The legislation allows 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote and allows constituents to place themselves on a permanent absentee voting list.

CEIR founder David Becker is responsible for helping to create a program utilized by many states for elections called Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), to assist in maintaining accurate voter records. ERIC was created in partnership with Pew Charitable Trusts, which has been funded in part by billionaire George Soros through his Open Society Foundation.

CEIR promotes the use of ERIC, which is utilized by more than half the states, to help maintain voter rolls, in addition to promoting voter registration.

Simon acknowledged during the summit with CEIR that there are some who “object to the manner in which the voter outreach component is being run” through ERIC, with one requirement to send out a particular kind of mailing to solicit votes.

Simon has been heavily criticized in the past, with the Minnesota Voters Alliance alleging “malfeasance,” claiming that voter rolls in Minnesota are poorly maintained. He was also criticized for his involvement with ERIC because sharing that data with the organization could violate the federal Help America Vote Act by sharing private voter records and private voter data records with an outside entity.


Hayley Feland

Hayley Feland previously worked as a journalist with The Minnesota Sun, The Wisconsin Daily Star, and The College Fix. She is a Minnesota native with a passion for politics and journalism.