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Former Secretary of State Calls WV Leaving ERIC 'Shortsighted'

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Monday, March 20, 2023   

Critics say West Virginia is taking a step backward by dropping out of the Electronic Registration Information Center system known as ERIC.

Run by states for the past decade, ERIC operates as a nonprofit membership organization aimed at helping improve the accuracy of state voter rolls by allowing states to share information about their voters.

Natalie Tennant, former Secretary of State, said the state is dumping the system -- previously praised by election officials in both Red and Blue states -- without thinking ahead about how to maintain clean voter rolls.

"What other kinds of program or maintenance process would there be?" Tennant asked. "That's why this is so shortsighted. They're just playing along with the politics that are taking place here, and not really looking out for the voters."

West Virginia is one of several states, including Louisiana, Alabama, Missouri, Florida, and most recently Ohio, choosing to stop sharing data with ERIC. Republicans opposed to the program have recently argued it is tool of liberal donors and organizations.

Tennant explained ERIC shares information about voters which helps streamline voter databases, especially when residents move or become deceased.

"It's easier for county clerks to be able to maintain and make sure that they don't have duplicates on their list, that someone hasn't passed and still on the list," Tennant outlined. "That's why ERIC was so important."

In an open letter released earlier this month, ERIC's executive director Shane Hamlin emphasized ERIC is not connected to any state's voter registration system, the reports generated by the program comply with federal and state laws, and member states retain complete control over their voter rolls.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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