Yesterday, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced that Michigan has become the 25th state to join the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, which helps states keep their voter lists up-to-date and accurate. This marks a major milestone for ERIC, which has existed for just over six years, but now includes half of the states, plus the District of Columbia, with nearly 100 million eligible voters living in the ERIC states.
I helped lead the effort to found ERIC in the summer of 2012, which started with only seven states (Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, and Washington). Since then, ERIC has revolutionized how voter list maintenance is done. ERIC has focused on a balanced approach, where more eligible voters are encouraged to get registered, while also ensuring that the records of those that move are updated, and those who’ve died since they last voted are removed.
Thanks to ERIC, nearly 10 million out-of-date voter records have been updated. This includes over 7 million voters who moved within their state and told their motor vehicles department about the move, but whose updated information never got to election officials. Before ERIC, those people wouldn’t have received correct information on upcoming elections or known where or how to vote. But, thanks to the states that joined ERIC, these 7+ million voters were enfranchised, getting correct information about how to participate.
ERIC has also successfully led to the removal of over 200,000 voters who had died since they last voted. Keeping the voter lists clean includes removing deceased individuals from the lists, and ERIC states are doing that better than the rest of the country, improving election integrity and voter confidence in those states.
Finally, ERIC encourages states to get more of their eligible voters registered by identifying citizens who aren’t registered and requiring each state to contact those individuals about registering. It’s estimated that ERIC has led to over 30 million eligible-but-unregistered voters being contacted since its inception, with more than 5 million of these citizens registering as a result, not counting the millions contacted in 2018 (data is still being collected about the 2018 outreach). This is one of the most effective voter registration efforts in history, and it’s all been led not by political parties or campaigns, but by government itself. Additionally, most of those eligible voters are being directed to register online, resulting in better list integrity.
Most importantly, ERIC is completely bipartisan and run by the states that participate. States as red as Alabama, Louisiana, and Utah co-manage ERIC, along with states as blue as Connecticut, Illinois, and Oregon. These states have demonstrated that voter list maintenance doesn’t have to be a choice between sloppily removing voters who are still eligible to vote or leaving people who’ve moved away or died on the list. With state-of-the-art technology, states can do proper list maintenance while complying with the law and ensuring that all eligible voters—and only eligible voters—are on the list.
And ERIC isn’t done. Though half the states are now members, that number will grow very soon. Last year Florida passed a law authorizing it to join ERIC in early 2019, and the governor of Massachusetts signed a bill with wide bipartisan support that will require that state to join as well. It’s likely that half of all eligible voters will live in an ERIC state by next year, meaning they can rest easier knowing their voter record will be accurate even if they move.