Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) vetoes bill that would have required Virginia to rejoin ERIC

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) vetoed SB606 on March 8, a bill that would have required the state to rejoin the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). ERIC is a multi-state voter list maintenance compact. The legislation passed the Virginia State Senate 21-19 on Feb. 12, and the House of Delegates 51-49 on Feb. 21. Both votes were along partisan lines, with all Democrats in each chamber voting for passage, and all Republicans in each chamber voting against. A veto override requires a two-thirds vote by both houses of the legislature.

Virginia was a founding member of ERIC in 2012 along with Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, Utah, and Washington, but withdrew from the organization in 2023. Virginia’s withdrawal came amidst a series of resignations between Nov. 2022 and Oct. 2023 when nine states withdrew from the organization.

According to the ERIC website, “The seven states that founded ERIC believed using state-of-the-art data matching technology, a robust data sharing program built on widely accepted information security standards, and an unprecedented commitment to cooperation would vastly improve their ability to maintain accurate voter rolls. It would also have the added benefit of allowing them to reach out to unregistered, but likely eligible, individuals more efficiently than anyone else.”

At its height, 33 states and the District of Columbia were members of ERIC. On July 13, 2022, Louisiana became the first state to officially resign its membership in ERIC, after previously suspending its participation in Jan. 2022. By Oct. 2023, eight other states had resigned: Alabama, Florida, Missouri, West Virginia, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, and Texas. At the time of resignation, seven of these states had Republican trifectas, and two, including Virginia, had divided governments.

Election officials in states that withdrew from ERIC named concerns about protection of personal data, partisanship, and strategic disagreements as contributing factors to their respective resignations. Critics of the resignations argued that the withdrawals were motivated by partisanship and conspiracy theories about ERIC’s work.

Active bills in at lease four other states this year would authorize or require application to ERIC:

The legislation in New York passed the New York State Senate 61-0 in 2023 and was carried over to this year’s session, while the bill in Hawaii passed that state’s senate 11-0 on Feb. 20. New Hampshire’s bill is the only such bill to have bipartisan sponsorship.

As of March 8, state lawmakers had introduced 149 bills related to voter list maintenance in 29 states.