The Pulse

NC Republicans prohibit the state joining an organization meant to keep voter rolls clean

By: - May 18, 2023 1:36 pm
a voter at the polls

Photo by Hill Street Studios/Getty Images.

State House and Senate Republicans agree that North Carolina will not join a multi-state effort to maintain accurate voter rolls. 

Both chambers included provisions in their budget proposals that prohibit the state from participating in the Electronic Registration Information Center and eliminate what was to be next year’s $35,000 membership fee. 

Republican states started abandoning ERIC after a right-wing disinformation campaign. 

ERIC was built to use matching software to identify for voters who may have left the state, voters who may have moved in-state, voters with duplicate registrations, and voters who died.  Participating states receive periodic reports with that information. 

ERIC also uses driver registration data to send states information on people who may be eligible to vote but who are not registered. 

Republican states have objected to voter-outreach, States Newsroom has reported. 

ERIC was beset by allegations that its aim was to pump Democratic voter registration and the false claim that George Soros provided seed funding.

North Carolina Democrats tried to restore ERIC to the budget, but Republicans would not allow it. A hint of the right-wing conspiracy theories surrounding ERIC surfaced during a House budget committee debate where a Republican legislator referenced the Alabama Secretary of State’s visit to ERIC’s Washington, D.C. address, where he reported finding an empty office. 

In an open letter addressing the misinformation circulating about ERIC, the executive director wrote that employees work remotely, and the Washington address is only for mail. 

As Democratic Senator Jay Chauduri of Wake County offered a multifaceted and ultimately doomed budget amendment focused on elections this week, he asked about the prohibition on joining ERIC. 

Sen. Ralph Hise said it wasn’t worth joining anymore because other states have dropped out. 

“The organization I would characterize as collapsing,” said Hise. He is a Mitchell County Republican and a chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Redistricting and Elections committees.

The states where North Carolina would find the most voter matches left the group, he said. 

“The value of ERIC is not there anymore,” Hise said. 

Florida, West Virginia, and Missouri announced in March that they were leaving. Virginia told ERIC last week that it is dropping out.  

The North Carolina Board of Elections wanted to join, saying in an email last month after the House voted to prohibit its participation that ERIC is the best way to keep the state’s voter rolls as clean as possible. 

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Lynn Bonner
Lynn Bonner

Investigative Reporter Lynn Bonner covers the state legislature and politics, as well as elections, the state budget, public and mental health, safety net programs and issues of racial equality.