In early March, West Virginia joined Florida, Missouri, Alabama and Louisiana in withdrawing from the Electronic Registration Information Center. ERIC is a multistate, data-sharing effort to make voter rolls more accurate and encourage eligible citizens to vote. The 28 participating states and the District of Columbia provide voter registration and driver’s license data to ERIC and receive an analysis that shows who has moved, who has died and who is eligible to vote but has not registered.
In other words, ERIC is designed to enhance security, efficiency and access. However, over the past year, unsubstantiated claims have circulated that ERIC is being used as a partisan tool to undermine election integrity.
ERIC was established, however, as a nonpartisan information provider with bipartisan support. States that exit ERIC may be sacrificing the integrity of their election process based on unfounded conspiracies.
The U.S. can learn a tremendous amount from Estonia’s e-governance revolution. Estonia faces a hostile security environment with an antagonistic Russia next door. But its integrated systems have helped balance security, efficiency and access in a wide range of government services. With the decision to withdraw from ERIC, some states are in danger of pulling the U.S. in the other direction.
Erik S. Herron receives funding from the US Department of Defense Minerva Research Initiative.