Texas is largest state to leave bipartisan national effort to prevent voter fraud
Jul 20, 2023, 2:20 PM
(Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The state of Texas resigned Thursday from a national, bipartisan effort to prevent voter fraud, becoming the largest state and ninth GOP-led state to leave the initiative since 2022.
The exit from the Electronic Registration Information Center, commonly known as ERIC, comes after Texas Republicans began showing a willingness this year to leave the group, which has been targeted by conspiracy theories about its funding and purpose. Republicans elsewhere have cited other reasons for leaving the initiative and said they have been working on an alternate system.
On Thursday, Texas submitted a letter to ERIC giving notice that the state would withdraw from the program, effective in 91 days, according to a Secretary of State spokesperson.
As fewer states participate in the effort, which allows states to share government data to maintain accurate voter lists, the costs for participating states are set to increase, spokesperson Alicia Phillips Pierce said.
There is no immediate plan to join another system, but the state continue to research options, Pierce said.
Other states to have recently resigned from ERIC include Louisiana, who was first, as well as Alabama, Florida, West Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Iowa and Virginia.
In Kentucky, Secretary of State Michael Adams, a Republican, said he is exploring his state’s options. His state is required to participate in ERIC due to a court order. But according to Adams, several surrounding states as well as Florida, where many Kentucky residents retire, are leaving or do not participate.
“Even if ERIC were hunky-dory, I still need to find ways to get information from 30-plus states that aren’t in ERIC,” Adams said.
New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said she was approached by officials in Ohio to discuss a data-sharing agreement, and she declined. “I am very interested in the longevity of ERIC because the concept of doing state-by-state agreements, it’s just a mess,” Toulouse Oliver said, adding that it took years to develop the various security and privacy protocols built into the process.
Multiple Democratic officials have said they are uninterested in alternatives to the ERIC system, which still includes a few Republican-led states. They expressed hope that large-population states will join, like California and New York, which are not currently part of ERIC.
“I’m committed to ERIC, I believe in it,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said earlier this month, before Texas announced its plans to leave. “There have been a lot of attempts in the past to create what ERIC created effectively, and those attempts failed.”
Cassidy reported from Atlanta.