Texas lawmakers sent SB1070 to Gov. Greg Abbot (R) on May 29, 2023, positioning the state to become the eighth to withdraw from ERIC this year, and the ninth overall. Elsewhere, Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) vetoed SB1135 on May 26, a bill including provisions that would have effectively withdrawn Arizona from ERIC.
ERIC is a multi-state voter list maintenance organization, initially established in 2012 by a group of chief election officials from seven states. At its height, 33 states were participating members in ERIC.
ERIC says that 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.
Beginning in 2022, election officials in several states resigned their states’ membership in the organization. Officials in these states said concerns about protecting personal data, partisanship, and strategic disagreements contributed to their resignations.
The efforts in Arizona and Texas to withdraw those states from participation in ERIC are unique because they were the first possible withdrawals driven by state legislation. Decisions in the eight other states that withdrew from ERIC were made by a state’s chief election official independent of legislatures.
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 bill was sent to Gov. Greg Abbot (R) for signature on May 29.
The Texas Republican Party, which supported the state’s withdrawal from ERIC, said of SB1070 that “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.” 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 that the effort to resign from ERIC was based on a conspiracy theory and, “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.”
The Arizona State Senate approved SB1135 by a vote of 16-13 on March 21, and the Arizona House of Representatives passed the bill 31-27 on May 15. Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) vetoed the bill on May 26.
Advocates for SB1135 said the bill would not require Arizona to withdraw from ERIC, only to stop participating in certain activities required of ERIC members. Sen. John Kavanagh (R), who introduced the bill, said of Arizona’s continued participation if SB1135 were enacted that, “It would be up to ERIC.” Sen. Priya Sundareshan (D) said of the effort, “It’s a little baffling that we now seek to remove access to that tool which is helpful in maintaining current and up-to-date voter rolls.”