A bipartisan effort among states to combat voter fraud has found itself in the crosshairs of conspiracy theories fueled by Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 presidential election and now faces an uncertain future.
One state has dropped out, a second is in the process of doing so and a handful of other Republican-led states are deciding whether to stay.
The aim of the Electronic Registration Information Center, a voluntary system known as ERIC, has been to help member states maintain accurate lists of registered voters by sharing data that allows officials to identify and remove people who have died or moved to other states. Reports also help states identify and ultimately prosecute people who vote in multiple states.
In Maryland, state election officials have received reports through the system identifying some 66,000 potentially deceased voters and 778,000 people who may have moved out of state since 2013. In Georgia, the system is credited with providing data to remove nearly 100,000 voters no longer eligible to vote in the state.
Shortly after, Louisiana left the group, citing concerns raised by the posts. A day after being sworn in last month, Alabama’s new secretary of state, Wes Allen, sent a letter informing the center of the state’s exit after criticizing the program during his campaign.
Other Republican-led states could follow, according to a survey of state election offices by The Associated Press. Officials in Florida and Missouri said they are evaluating their participation, while legislation in Texas could force the state to leave. West Virginia election officials declined to weigh in, saying they are “closely monitoring the situation with ERIC’s membership.”
The departures and potential for additional ones have frustrated state election officials involved in the effort and have demonstrated how deeply election conspiracies have spread throughout the Republican Party.