Election officials from states enrolled in a bipartisan effort to ensure accurate voter lists decided Friday against making rule changes that had been pushed by Republicans amid conspiracies targeting the group, prompting more GOP-leaning states to leave.
The Electronic Registration Information Center, known as ERIC, has a record of combating voter fraud by identifying those who have died or moved between states. Yet it also has drawn suspicion among some Republican state leaders, after a series of online stories surfaced last year questioning the center’s funding and purpose.
Earlier this month, Republican election officials from Florida, Missouri and West Virginia said they planned to withdraw from the group, joining Louisiana and Alabama. Former President Donald Trump, on social media, has called on every Republican-led state to leave, characterizing it as a “terrible Voter Registration System that ’pumps the rolls’ for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up.”
On Friday, representatives from the group’s member states met remotely for about three hours to discuss the changes promoted by Republicans, which included dropping a requirement for members to mail notices to people who are eligible but not registered to vote. Currently, ERIC is comprised of 32 states and the District of Columbia, but that number will drop once Alabama, Florida, Missouri and West Virginia formally depart later this year.
After Friday’s meeting, Republican secretaries of state in Iowa and Ohio became the latest to say they would pull out.
“The action Ohio is taking today follows nearly a year of good faith, bipartisan efforts to reform ERIC’s oversight and services,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who is considering a run for U.S. Senate in 2024, wrote in a letter. “Unfortunately, these attempts to save what could be an unparalleled election integrity service have fallen short.”
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said he would recommend to the governor and Legislature that the state end its membership in ERIC because of the organization’s decision not to amend the membership agreement. He also said the departure of several other states makes the network less valuable.
ERIC’s executive director, Shane Hamlin, said in an emailed statement that “serious consideration” was given to the proposals but the members voted to maintain the program’s current requirements.
“We hope all states will choose to be members of ERIC, as it is the most effective tool available to help ensure voter rolls are as accurate as possible and to detect possible cases of illegal voting,” Hamlin said.
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, a Republican, will push ahead with the state’s plans to leave the system, spokesperson Mike Queen said after Friday’s meeting.
The departures have frustrated some state election officials who remain involved in the effort.
“It’s notable that the states at the forefront of these attacks, who have a newfound desire to opt out of sending eligible citizens information on how to register to vote, are led by Republican politicians who are actively trying to curry favor from their party’s extremists and, in most cases, Trump himself, to …read more
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