On July 20, Texas became the eighth state to resign from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) in 2023, and the ninth state overall.
ERIC is a multi-state voter list maintenance organization, initially established in 2012 by a group of chief election officials from seven states. By 2022, 33 states were participating members in ERIC. ERIC says its mission is “to assist states in improving the accuracy of America’s voter rolls and increasing access to voter registration for all eligible citizens.” States that join ERIC agree to share their voter registration and licensing and identification data from motor vehicle departments every 60 days. ERIC then compiles this data and subsequently releases a series of voter list maintenance reports.
Texas Director of Elections Christina Adkins submitted the state’s resignation letter to ERIC on July 20. The withdrawal will become effective on Oct. 19, 2023, per ERIC bylaws. Alicia Pierce, a representative for Texas Secretary of State Jane Nelson, said compliance with Senate Bill 1070 was the reason for Texas’s withdrawal. SB1070, which Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed on June 18, includes provisions that make compliance with ERIC’s bylaws effectively impossible and directs the Texas Secretary of State to develop a new voter registration data-sharing compact, or find a new program with annual dues less than $100,000.
The Texas State Senate approved SB1070 by a vote of 26-4 on April 12, and the Texas House of Representatives passed the bill 85-61 on May 23.
The Texas Republican Party, which supported the state’s withdrawal from ERIC, said of SB1070, “The ERIC membership agreement collects an extensive amount of personally identifiable information and data related to elections going far beyond the requirements of our Interstate Crosscheck Program.”
The bill’s author, Sen. Bryan Hughes (R), said, “We wouldn’t want to give folks the impression that we’re making some radical change in the law. We’re restoring the law to where it was two years ago.”
Rep. Chris Turner (D) said the effort to resign from ERIC was based on a conspiracy theory. He said, “That’s why I don’t understand why we have this bill before us, particularly when we know the data shows that ERIC has helped Texas identify duplicate registrations, and that’s exactly what we should be trying to do.”
Rep. John Bucy (D), who successfully added two amendments to SB1070, said, “The GOP push to get out of ERIC shows they’re not committed to safe and accurate elections as they claim, but instead are committed to placating extremists in their party that perpetuate the big lie.”
Louisiana became the first state to withdraw from ERIC in 2022, followed by Alabama, Florida, Missouri, West Virginia, Iowa, Ohio, and Virginia this year. Election officials in these states named concerns about protection of personal data, partisanship, and strategic disagreements as contributing factors to their respective resignations.