Los Angeles Times
Three GOP-led states exit system to thwart voter fraud
Florida, Missouri and West Virginia pull out of bipartisan effort for accurate registrations.
ATLANTA — Election officials in Florida, Missouri and West Virginia said Monday that they are withdrawing from a bipartisan, multi-state effort aimed at ensuring the accuracy of voter rolls that has found itself in the crosshairs of conspiracy theories fueled by former President Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.
The system to thwart voter fraud — known as the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC — has become a target of suspicion among some Republicans after a series of online posts early last year questioned its funding and purpose.
Louisiana withdrew last year, and Alabama is in the process of doing so.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said Monday that he had been pushing the group to address his concerns and those of others.
“It appears that ERIC will not make the necessary changes to address these concerns, therefore, it is time to move on,” Ashcroft said in a statement.
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said he did not expect the departure from the program to affect his state’s ability to maintain accurate voter rolls. Florida’s secretary of state, who is appointed by the governor, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shane Hamlin, ERIC’s executive director, confirmed in a statement that the three states had provided notice to withdraw.
“We will continue our work on behalf of our remaining member states in improving the accuracy of America’s voter rolls and increasing access to voter registration for all eligible citizens,” Hamlin said.
‘Election officials who pull out of ERIC are primarily harming their own state’s ability to keep their voter list accurate.’
— Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s secretary of state
The program was started in 2012 and was bipartisan from the beginning, with four of the seven founding states led by Republicans. After Florida, Missouri and West Virginia officially depart, the membership will comprise 28 states and the District of Columbia.
State election officials involved in the effort said the departures demonstrate how deeply election conspiracies have spread throughout the Republican Party.
“Election officials who pull out of ERIC are primarily harming their own state’s ability to keep their voter list accurate,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement Monday to the Associated Press. “It’s odd and disturbing to me that any official would choose validating misinformation over being part of a collaborative that has the sole and well-established purpose of improving the integrity of our elections.”
Not all Republican-led states have been reevaluating their participation in the program. In a recent AP survey of states taking part, eight that are led or controlled by Republicans said they had no intention of leaving.