Florida, Missouri and West Virginia on Monday announced they plan to pull out of a voter data consortium called the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).
ERIC was first formed in 2012 at the Pew Charitable Trusts. The non-profit has until recently enjoyed bipartisan support in more than 30 states for its efforts to help keep voter rolls updated and free from opportunities for fraud. However, the program has been straining lately under misinformation from election deniers, who falsely claim ERIC is a left-wing apparatus that shares voter data with liberal groups.
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said his state’s decision to withdraw followed a February 19 meeting of the ERIC board of directors when a “critical working group recommended changes to its bylaws and membership agreements were rejected” that would have “prevented third-party influences from serving as non-state ex-official members to the ERIC board of directors.”
ERIC co-founder David Becker has countered, “Why would people who purport to want more election integrity seek to damage the best tool out there?”
ERIC requires member states to share data with one another from their voter-registration rolls and motor vehicle records. Its compiled data can be used to help the member states remove from their rolls people who have died or moved away.
New ERIC members are also required to send a postcard to every eligible, unregistered voter in their state to encourage them to register to vote. They then repeat the process with newly eligible voters before every federal election.
ERIC’s mission is to give incentives to both Republicans and Democrats. Among the 34 states that had joined by early 2022 were all six of the most closely contested battleground states of the 2020 Presidential election.
In the aftermath of 2020, however, ERIC became the target of unsubstantiated attacks amid former President Trump’s attempt to overturn his election loss. For example, because it was founded in part with help from Pew, which received funding from liberal donor George Soros’ organization, some Trump allies have called it a left-wing, Soros-backed operation. In reality, ERIC operates on taxpayer-funded dues from member states and has never received funding from Soros.
Before the current three states’ announced withdrawals, Alabama withdrew from the ERIC voter roll program in January 2022.