New Orleans It’s not perfect, but it’s about the best we have when it comes to a collaborative database of voters, shared state by many states. When it comes to real, not imagined, voter fraud or duplicate voting, it’s time to ask ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center. Our Voter Purge Project could quibble about this or that, but ERIC is an important piece in keeping the system together across a bipartisan group of thirty states who fund and cooperate to make it work.
It’s not a silver bullet for voter registration, but has some minimum standards that encourage voters, especially among the newly registered, to get to the polls and cast their ballots. As described in The Washington Post,
The organization requires member states to share data with each other from their voter registration rolls and motor vehicle records — and to periodically use the reports that ERIC compiles to help them remove from their rolls people who have died or moved away. The system can also be used to help identify and prosecute those who have double-voted across state lines. New members also are required to send a postcard to every eligible, unregistered voter in their state encouraging them to register to vote. They must repeat the exercise with newly eligible voters before every federal election.
Seems pretty plain vanilla, right?
Well, when it comes to voters and the voter list, everything has become contentious, especially in our time of troubles with election deniers, and that includes attacks on ERIC. Way too many Republican states, trying to curry favor with the rightest and reddest of their Trump-infected base, are ready to throw ERIC under the bus, based on false claims and misinformation. Some already have. Louisiana’s controversial Secretary of State Ardoin, who recently injected himself into a New Orleans kerfuffle by simply making up a number and claiming 25000 voters should be moved to the inactive list, so that he can build support for an illegal “supplemental canvass” which seems little more than caging, took the state out of ERIC a year ago. Alabama is now out as well. Legislation is pending in Missouri, Texas and other states to jump ship now.
This is a nonpartisan effort created by red and blue secretaries aided by the Pew Charitable Trust. The history of Pew is a long way from left-liberal, but in the anything goes camp, that’s one of the arrows they are shooting at ERIC, along with false claims that it is funded by George Soros, which it is not.
This is one of those “cutting your nose off to spite your face” deals. Blocking states from sharing access to each other’s voter lists means it will be harder to clean and maintain the lists and keep up with voters moving and dual registrations. VPP processes these lists individually, and we can attest to the wide differences in systems and protocols many uses and how often they change their categories and coding. One state alone is less likely to be able to keep up and spend the time, money, and talent to state by state to compare. All of which, I guarantee, is going to accelerate the accusations of fraud and reduce confidence in the integrity of the lists.
We’re not huge fans of ERIC, but this is a throwing the baby out with the bathwater situation and makes precious little sense, no matter how red state.