Texas Jettisons Bipartisan Voter List Program
Texas is leaving the Electronic Registration Information Center, becoming the latest — and largest — Republican-led state to leave the bipartisan voting list maintenance program.
The move by the nation’s second-most-populous state, while widely expected for months, is still another serious break for the organization. Just five Republican-leaning states are still members.
The shrinking bipartisan nature of an organization designed to smooth operations of elections is yet another sign of how the normally nonpartisan nature of elections administration is under fresh pressure from conspiracy theories and partisan attacks.
Alicia Pierce, a spokesperson for Texas Secretary of State Jane Nelson confirmed the state would be leaving the organization. VoteBeat, a nonprofit news organization focused on election administration, first reported that Texas would leave the program.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said in a text message. He called the organization an “effective tool to ensure safe and accurate elections,” and said Republicans were “placating extremists in their party” by dropping out.
ERIC is a nonprofit organization founded in 2012 by a group of bipartisan election officials. The organization, once hailed by Republicans as one of the best nationwide tools for keeping up-to-date voting lists and fighting election fraud, coordinates data sharing between the states and produces reports on things like voters who may have moved to or died in other states, as well as potential double-voters after elections.
Texas will be the ninth Republican-led state to leave the program over the last year-and-a-half, joining Louisiana, Alabama, Missouri, Florida, West Virginia, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia. Texas’ resignation from the organization will go into effect in roughly three months.
ERIC has been besieged by attacks for the better part of two years, with election deniers claiming — falsely — that the organization was a front for liberals to control states’ voter lists.
Senior election officials from the states that have left the program have insisted that the conspiracy theorists that have cheered them on have had nothing to do with their departure. Instead, they cite frustrations with the governance and operation of the program — from the composition of the organization’s board to a requirement that states in the program contact potential voters who could be eligible to vote but who are not yet registered.
Texas’ departure from the organization has long been telegraphed. In March, Nelson announced that the state’s then-elections director will “now serve in a newly-created position to develop and manage an interstate voter registration crosscheck program,” which was widely seen within the elections community as Texas signaling it was looking for an ERIC alternative.
“We will continue our work on behalf of our remaining member states in improving the accuracy of America’s voter rolls and increasing access to voter registration for all eligible citizens,” he added.