ERIC is a problem for voter confidence in elections—here’s why
- BY Sarah Coffey
Clean voter rolls are one of the best ways to improve voter confidence in elections.
If a person is deceased or no longer a resident of the state, they should not be on the state’s list of registered voters. And regular checks of these rolls to remove ineligible voters just make sense.
Since 2012, a non-profit organization called ERIC, or the Electronic Registration Information Center, has been touted as a way for states to manage and maintain voter rolls. But a closer look at ERIC’s actual work behind the scenes and their partisan ties has states reconsidering—and canceling—their membership in the organization and finding better ways to clean their voter rolls.
What is ERIC and why is it a problem?
ERIC claims its purpose is to maintain voter rolls. The biggest problem is that it doesn’t do that. In fact, there is no requirement for member states to clean voter rolls. So, what’s the point of ERIC? Collecting data and helping left-leaning organizations.
For an organization with what should be a neutral, non-partisan role, ERIC is actually very partisan. Founded by leftist lawyer David Becker, ERIC is closely aligned with the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), one of several organizations through which Mark Zuckerberg funneled millions of dollars to targeted local election offices in predominantly blue districts during the 2020 election.
ERIC also shares private voter data with third parties for political purposes. ERIC shares data with CEIR, who then creates mailing lists of potential voters to send back to states. As The Federalist reports, “This means that CEIR—a highly partisan actor with ties to left-wing activism—is developing lists of potential (and likely Democrat) voters for states to register in the lead-up to major elections.”
And while there isn’t a requirement that states clean their voter rolls, there is, however, a requirement that states identify and inform eligible-but-unregistered individuals about voter registration. This should tell you all you need to know about ERIC’s priorities.
States are (rightfully) exiting ERIC
A partisan third party being tasked with maintaining voter rolls—and then using the access to data to register new voters—is a recipe for disaster when it comes to actually keeping voter rolls clean and confidence in elections high. It’s not surprising, then, that a growing number of states are choosing to leave ERIC.
Alabama left ERIC and instead will employ a host of state-based solutions for keeping voter registration rolls clean and up to date. Just this month, Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen announced the creation of AVID, the Alabama Voter Integrity Database, which will employ Alabama’s and neighboring state databases to cross-check voter rolls and remove those individuals who are deceased, who have moved, or are no longer eligible to vote in the state.
And the approach is working. Secretary Allen’s office reports that AVID has found nearly 40,000 registered voters, some who had driver’s licenses in other states and others who were confirmed to no longer live in Alabama. This success demonstrates that ERIC isn’t needed or necessary to maintain voter rolls at all.
Other states should do—and are doing—the same.
There are better ways to clean voter rolls
As Alabama and Ohio have shown, there is a better way to keep voter rolls clean and make sure only those who are registered to vote remain on the rolls. Here are a few reforms states are doing, and that other states should implement in place of ERIC membership:
- States should securely share voter information to cross-check lists for duplicate or fraudulent registrations. In Ohio, Secretary of State Frank LaRose created data-sharing agreements with Florida, Virginia, and West Virginia. This will allow each state to securely share voter information to cross-check voter lists and remove duplicate or fraudulent voter registrations from their lists.
- Compare state voter rolls to the National Change of Address file, a resource of all address changes submitted to the U.S. Postal Service to verify if voters have moved and are no longer eligible to vote in their previous home state. This is how Alabama removed 30,000 people from Alabama voter rolls who no longer live in the state.
- Require state agencies to share data to verify voter registrations. For example, Alabama’s AVID database utilizes the records of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Alabama identified more than 8,000 registered voters who had moved using this method. Ohio requires state agencies like their Department of Health, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Job and Family Services, the Department of Medicaid, and the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, to share information with the secretary of state monthly.1
And states can rest assured that actions to improve voter roll maintenance are strongly supported by voters. A recent poll from the Center for Excellence in Polling found significant support for reforms like that of Alabama and Ohio: Seventy-three percent of likely voters support requiring their state to conduct a comprehensive audit of the voter rolls at least twice per year.
More states should leave ERIC
Going to the polls wondering if your vote will matter—because so many ineligible votes will be counted—drives confidence in elections down. And without confidence in elections, our republic can’t function.
States like Alabama are taking matters into their own hands and creating state-based solutions that work—eight states, including Alabama, have already left ERIC. More should follow suit and implement their own commonsense solutions for cleaning up their voter lists.
1ORC Ann. § 3503.15(A)(2)(a)