5 things you need to know about ERIC

Here's why ERIC is critical to our election administration in Pennsylvania.

The Electronic Registration Information Center, known as ERIC, has recently come under attack from election conspiracy theorists looking to cast doubt on the integrity of our voter rolls. What was once an inconspicuous election administration tool has become a flashpoint in the fight to protect free and fair elections.  

Several member states controlled by Republicans have withdrawn their support, leaving their states vulnerable to improperly maintained voter rolls. 

Here in Pennsylvania, you may have heard that some state legislators want our state to withdraw from ERIC and create a new, expensive, and duplicate system without any input from local election officials. But here’s why ERIC is the best tool available for keeping our voter rolls accurate and protecting the privacy of voters. 

1. ERIC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization created and run by state election professionals.  

ERIC was created by a bipartisan team of state election officials in 2012 to help improve the accuracy of voter registration rolls. This secure, efficient, and cost-effective system crosschecks data submitted by the states against other databases to identify duplicate or outdated voter registrations that may need to be removed or updated.  

Currently 26 states and D.C. participate in ERIC. 

2. ERIC helps states comply with federal law.  

Keeping voter registration records up to date is an important aspect of election administration. ERIC helps states comply with the National Voter Registration Act which requires states to make regular, reasonable efforts to remove ineligible voters from voter registration rolls.  

ERIC checks state voter registration lists against other states’ lists as well as motor vehicle, National Change of Address, and Social Security death index records.  

States can then begin the process of removing or updating records by contacting voters and letting them know that they need to confirm or update their information before their registrations are removed.  

3. ERIC is the gold standard for keeping voter lists accurate.  

ERIC is the best and most secure resource that exists for states to keep their voter registration rolls current. The more states that participate in ERIC, the more records can be accessed. And this means that voter registration rolls are more accurate.  

There is no viable alternative to ERIC. States that have withdrawn from ERIC will spend substantially more money – perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars annually – to create their own systems to access the same types of databases that ERIC uses. These new systems would be much less effective than ERIC, as they wouldn’t have access to the same scale of records.  

4. ERIC protects voter privacy.  

ERIC has robust security measures in place to ensure that sensitive voter data, like driver’s license and Social Security numbers, is kept safe. The system also has safeguards in place to maintain proper storage of that data, and auditing procedures that help to track and restrict the way that sensitive data is used.  

Replicating these safeguards on a state-by-state basis will come at the expense of voters.  

5.) States are leaving ERIC because of a lie. 

Since January 2020, ERIC has been under threat, thanks to a highly coordinated misinformation campaign instigated by election conspiracy theorists. Motivated by the political benefits and led by some of the same individuals who continue to deny the results of the 2020 election, Republican officials – some of whom who had previously been enthusiastic supporters of ERIC – have begun to pull their states out of the system. 

So, what’s the reason behind the withdrawals? In short: former president Trump’s false claims and conspiracy theories.  

In his efforts to cast off blame for his failed reelection campaign, the former president has targeted yet another aspect of our system of free and fair elections. Part of ERIC’s function is to help states identify and register eligible but unregistered voters, a feature that Trump claims gave Democrats an advantage in the 2020 election. But this function is available to all states for all voters, regardless of political affiliation. Let’s be clear: ERIC is nonpartisan, apolitical, and certainly not the reason that Trump lost in 2020.  

What’s at stake? 

ERIC helps states remove tens of thousands of inaccurate or outdated voter registrations every year. 

In Pennsylvania alone, ERIC helped removed thousands of voter registrations of deceased voters, voters who’d moved out of state, or voters who’d requested their registration be cancelled. By using ERIC, Pennsylvania was able to reduce duplicate voter registrations by more than 80% since 2020 

There is no other system like it, and building one from scratch would be an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars.